Ligation and Stripping for Varicose Veins
Vein ligation and stripping is a minor surgery that permanently removes varicose veins. This technique is typically done under general anesthesia and removes the entire length of the affected vein. Ligation refers to the cutting and stitching of the vein, while stripping refers to the actual removal of the vein.
The SkinnyLigation and Stripping for Varicose Veins
- avg. recovery
About the Procedure
Varicose veins are large, bulging, surface veins that commonly appear on the legs. Varicose veins form when the valves within the veins are unable to properly recirculate blood back up to the heart. The blood begins to pool within the vein causing a bulging appearance. Varicose veins are usually harmless, but can indicate a more serious health issue. Once it is determined that there is no underlying health concern, a treatment plan can be determined. Vein ligation and stripping is the most invasive treatment method for varicose vein removal. This treatment typically requires patients to undergo general anesthesia and surgery can last between 60-90 minutes or longer. The procedure involves removing the affected vein all at once, pulling the vein from the top of the leg through an incision at the knee or the ankle. Ambulatory phlebotomy is a similar procedure but only requires local anesthetic and removes the vein in smaller sections. Once the patient is sedated under general anesthesia, two incisions will be made: the first near the groin and the second near the knee or ankle. Incision location will vary depending on the individual needs of the patient. At the incision near the groin, the varicose vein will be located, severed, and stitched at the top. A wire will then be threaded through the entire length of the vein, exiting the body at the location of the second incision. As the wire is pulled out, the vein is removed from the body. Incisions will be closed with sutures. During surgery it is common to have smaller varicose veins removed as well. Incisions will be made near the vein, ligated, and surgically removed from the body without the need of a wire. These incisions typically only require adhesive strips for closure. The leg will then be bandaged and compression stockings may also need to be worn. Full recovery can take up to 4 weeks.
The goal of varicose vein treatment is to reduce the appearance of bulging, unsightly, and at times painful varicose veins, typically on the legs.
What to Expect
Vein ligation and stripping is a minor surgery that permanently removes varicose veins. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after a ligation and stripping procedure.
- No special measures need to be taken before treatment
- Advised to discontinue use of blood thinning medications 1 week before and after surgery
- General anesthesia
- Incisions made at groin and knee or ankle
- Varicose vein located and ligated at groin
- Wire threaded through vein and out second incision
- Wire pulls out affected vein
- Sutures to close
- Compressive dressings applied
Patients will return home after surgery for recovery. Many are able to return to work and normal activities within a few days. Compression stockings should be worn 24 hours daily for the first week and during the day for an additional week, although some patients will require compression therapy for up to 4 weeks.
The ideal candidate for ligation and stripping has large, visible varicose veins in the legs.
Not Recommended For
Stripping and ligation is not recommended for patients who have poor circulation, lymphedema, skin infections, arteriovenous fistulas or blood-clotting defects. Women who are pregnant are not candidates for the procedure.
Side effects from ligation and stripping may include discomfort, bruising, numbness and tingling sensations, infection, blood clots, and irritation of leg nerves.