With the recent advent of more effective and less invasive vein treatment options, Dr. White has not performed a vein stripping procedure since 2002. In the interest of educating our patients however, we have still included the following information regarding vein stripping surgery.
Varicose veins can be removed by an operation known as vein stripping. Vein stripping is the only option for removing the saphenous veins (the largest surface veins in the legs) that serve as the major channels for blood among the superficial veins in the leg.
A person undergoing this procedure may receive either general anesthesia (to be asleep for the procedure) or an epidural (a local anesthetic injection into the back that numbs the lower half of the body).
The surgeon makes two small incisions-one in the groin and the other near the ankle.
The surgeon then ligates (ties off) the saphenous vein and its branches at the groin incision.
The surgeon then passes a flexible wire through the vein from the ankle incision. A number of small incisions in the skin are sometimes needed along the vein to guide the wire along the length of the entire vein.
When the wire reaches the groin incision, the surgeon pulls the wire out, bringing the entire vein with it (“strips the vein out”).
Many patients are able to leave the hospital on the same day as the surgery–or at the most, the day following surgery.
It usually takes two to six weeks to recover from the operation. During that time, your physician may ask you to:
Keep the leg or legs bandaged for several weeks following surgery.
Take several short walks, starting with five minutes each time, and slowly increasing the time and distance covered each day.
Lie down frequently and keep your leg elevated above your heart.
The bandages and any stitches used will be removed by the end of the first week, during a follow-up visit to the surgeon’s office. Most people are able to return to work within one to two weeks of the operation.
Some physicians believe that the saphenous vein should never be removed, because it is the primary source of veins used for heart bypass operations. However, other surgeons feel that if the saphenous vein is thoroughly damaged, as in more severe varicose veins, it is usually not suitable for use in bypass surgery.
Possible Complications of Vein Stripping
The principal complications following vein stripping include:
Occasionally, the procedure can damage superficial nerves along the stripped vein, causing a patchy area of numbness in the leg. The nerves usually recover, however, and sensation returns.
In some instances, it can result in such complications as infection, which will require antibiotic treatment, and bleeding, which can be treated usually by firm pressure.
Nice To Know:
About 85 percent of patients experience long-term relief of varicose veins following vein stripping.
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