Surgery is commonly used to treat very large varicose veins. The procedure is known as surgical ligation and stripping.
The surgeon may recommend varicose vein stripping if the veins are causing pain, there are skin changes or ulcers, bleeding form the veins or there is concern over the cosmetic appearance of your legs.
This operation is performed in hospital under general anaesthesia. The varicose vein is tied off and removed from the leg through small cuts in the skin. The incisions are stitched and bandages and compression stockings are put on the legs.
If you have other smaller varicose veins closer to skin the surgeon will make small cuts over them to remove them. This procedure is called phlebectomy.
Most patients stay one night in hospital after their operation.
The Surgeon will see you the next morning and check that all is well. At that time the bandages will be removed. Fresh dressings are applied and paper “Steri-Strip” placed over the small avulsion sites. A white TED stocking is then placed on the leg and you can be discharged from hospital.
Your post-operative care depends on what type of vein procedure you have had. The Surgeon will discuss your care before you go home from hospital.
If you have had stripping or ligation of veins (bigger cuts) your stocking will stay on day and night for 7 days. During this time you can wash but not shower or bath. After 7 days, remove the stockings and large dressings and shower normally and wear the stockings during the day for the next 2 weeks. For the first week after your surgery walk for 5 to 10 minutes every hour or so during the day, but you may do more walking. When not walking, lie down. Minimize sitting and standing. Don’t work or drive. After the first week resume normal activities but do not swim for 3 weeks. You have dissolving stitches and these do not need to be removed.
Risks of Varicose Vein Stripping
Varicose vein stripping is a safe, low risk operation. Problems that can occur include:
- reaction to the anaesthetic
- infection at the incision sites
- blood clots
- nerve injury