Varicose Vein Removal Procedure: Varicose Vein Ligation & Stripping

This is a minor surgical procedure, which is done to remove varicose veins from thighs or legs. Varicose veins are those enlarged, twisted veins of bluish-purple color that are visible beneath the skin. Varicose veins commonly develop in the legs; however, can also develop on other areas of the body. Varicose vein ligation and stripping is done mainly to address the larger varicose veins.

Varicose vein ligation and stripping is a varicose vein removal procedure, which helps in removing the varicose veins and preventing them from coming back. Varicose vein ligation and stripping is also known as vein avulsion, vein stripping with ligation or vein ablation.

When is Varicose Vein Ligation & Stripping Recommended?

Varicose vein ligation and stripping is recommended if the patient has the following symptoms along with varicose veins:

  • Skin ulcers and sores.
  • Constant pain, tenderness and throbbing in the legs.
  • Development of blood clots.
  • Rupture or bleeding of the varicose veins.

Varicose vein ligation and stripping for removing the varicose vein is also done for cosmetic reason also, i.e. if the patient doesn’t like or feels embarrassed due to the appearance of the varicose veins on the legs.

How to Prepare for Varicose Vein Removal Procedure or Varicose Vein Ligation & Stripping?

A physical exam of the patient is done to determine where the vein valves which are not working situated. For this purpose, an ultrasound device can be used to better see the veins and their valves. A duplex scan can also be done, which generates clear images of the affected veins along with the amount of blood flow. A duplex scan also helps in ruling out any thrombosis or clots in the veins.

Before the varicose vein removal procedure, the patient needs to inform the doctor about any over-the-counter or prescription medications, which the patient is taking. The patient may also be asked to temporarily stop taking certain medicines, as some of the medications can cause heavy bleeding during the varicose vein removal procedure i.e., varicose vein ligation and stripping.

Arrangement should also be done for a friend or family member to drive the patient home after the varicose vein removal procedure. Varicose vein ligation and stripping is usually done under general anesthesia, which makes the patient drowsy and renders impossible for him/her to drive for several hours.

What are the Associated Risks of Varicose Vein Ligation & Stripping?

Varicose vein ligation and stripping is a low-risk and a safe surgical procedure. Some risks, which are associated with this varicose vein removal procedure, are:

  • Patient can develop allergic reaction to anesthesia post varicose vein removal procedure.
  • Patient can experience heavy bleeding during or after varicose vein ligation and stripping.
  • Patient can develop infection at the incision sites after the varicose vein ligation and stripping.
  • There can be formation of blood clots after varicose vein ligation and stripping.
  • There can be injury to the nerve after varicose vein ligation and stripping.
  • There can be bruising or scarring after the varicose vein removal procedure.

The above mentioned risks are rare. There are certain people who are at increased risk for experiencing these risks of varicose vein removal procedure and these patients are:

Who Should Not Undergo Varicose Vein Removal Procedure of Ligation & Stripping?

  • Patients with poor blood flow or circulation in the legs.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Patients suffering from skin infections.
  • Patients who are obese or extremely overweight.
  • Patients having problems with blood-clotting.
  • Patients having clotting problems.
  • Patients having arteriovenous fistula in the legs.
  • Patients with fluid accumulation and swelling due to blockage in the lymph vessels.

Varicose Vein Removal Procedure: How is Varicose Vein Ligation & Stripping Done?

Varicose vein ligation and stripping is commonly done on an outpatient basis and the patient can go home on the same day. The duration of varicose vein ligation and stripping is around 1 to 1.5 hours. If there is any complication during this varicose vein removal procedure, then it may take longer. Patient is given either general or spinal anesthesia before the varicose vein removal procedure. Patient may also be given an anti-anxiety medication before the varicose vein ligation and stripping if the patient is feeling anxious regarding the varicose vein removal procedure.

During the varicose vein ligation and stripping procedure, there are several small incisions or cuts made by the surgeon near the top and bottom of the varicose vein. One incision is made in the groin and the other incision is made further down the leg, which can be either in the calf or ankle. The surgeon then threads a thin, flexible wire into the affected vein via the groin incision till it reaches the lower incision. The vein is then tied or ligated to the wire and pulled out (stripped) through the cut. The incision is then closed with stitches; and bandages are placed on the incisions.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Varicose Vein Ligation & Stripping?

Recovery from varicose vein ligation and stripping commonly takes about two to four weeks and the recovery time also depends on the number of veins, which were stripped and their location.

Pain killers are prescribed to alleviate the pain and discomfort felt post varicose vein removal procedure. Patient is advised to rest for the first three to four days post varicose vein ligation and stripping after which the bandages are removed. During the recovery period, the patient is told to keep the legs elevated when sitting. After about a month of varicose vein removal procedure, the patient can resume normal activities.

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