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Varicose vein stripping

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Vein stripping is surgery to remove varicose veins in the legs.

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Description
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and enlarged veins that you can see under the skin. They are often red or blue in color. They usually appear in the legs, but can occur in other parts of the body. 

Normally, valves in your veins keep your blood flowing up toward the heart, so the blood does not collect in one place. The valves in varicose veins are either damaged or missing. This causes the veins to become filled with blood, especially when you are standing.

Vein stripping is used to remove or tie off a large vein in the leg called the superficial saphenous vein. This helps treat varicose veins.

Vein stripping usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You may receive either: During surgery:
Why the Procedure is Performed
The doctor may recommend vein stripping for: Today, doctors are doing fewer vein stripping surgeries because there are newer, non-surgical ways to treat varicose veins that don't require general anesthesia and are done without an overnight hospital stay. These treatments are less painful and have a much faster recovery time.

Risks
Vein stripping is usually safe. Ask your doctor about any problems that might occur.

The risks from any anesthesia include: The risks from any surgery include: The risks from vein stripping include:
Before the Procedure
Always tell your doctor or nurse: During the days before your surgery: On the day of your surgery:
After the Procedure
Your legs will be wrapped with bandages to control swelling and bleeding for 3 to 5 days after surgery. You may need to keep them wrapped for several weeks.

Outlook (Prognosis)
Surgical vein stripping reduces pain and improves the appearance of your leg. Rarely, vein stripping causes scars. Mild leg swelling can occur. Be sure you regularly wear compression stockings.

Alternative Names
Vein stripping with ligation, avulsion, or ablation; vein ligation and stripping; vein surgery

References
Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery . 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 65.

Goldman MP, Guex JJ, Weiss RA. Sclerotherapy: Treatment of Varicose and Telangiectatic Leg Veins . 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011.

Update Date: 5/27/2014
Deepak Sudheendra, MD, Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology & Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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