Varicose Veins Treatment: Vein Ligation and Stripping

Varicose Veins Treatment is important both from an aesthetic point of view and for the overall health of the patient. Left untreated, varicose veins can cause more severe disorders such as lung blood clots, skin problems and vein inflammations (thrombophlebitis), not to mention the development of pain, cramps, fatigue and swelling of the legs. Depending on the seriousness of the condition, varicose veins treatment can be done in several ways. Vein ligation and stripping is one of the most common procedures used for surgical varicose veins treatment.

Vein Ligation and Stripping

Vein ligation and stripping is a procedure used in surgically treating varicose veins. The principles for these treatments consist of either tying off or removing the veins which have been affected. Only superficial veins, those veins which are close to the skin surface, can turn into varicose veins. Therefore, their being tied off or removed does not jeopardize the blood supply of the entire leg.

Vein ligation and stripping is usually performed on patients with large varicose veins and patients that have tried other means of non-surgical treatment which did not work. Vein ligation is a surgical procedure which consists of the tying of the greater saphenous vein, a large vein in the leg. If there are also healthy valves in the vein, ligation can be performed only around that area. If the whole vein is compromised, vein stripping is performed and the entire vein is pulled out through a small incision made beneath it.

If vein ligation is performed, the healthy part of the vein can still function, continuing its role to supply blood to the leg.

Recovery after Vein Ligation and Stripping

Usually patients can return home and resume their daily activities the same day after surgery. They should walk and perform activities which involve movement to stimulate blood circulation in the legs. It is also recommended to wear compression stockings for up to six weeks after surgery.

Risks of Vein Ligation and Stripping

The risks related with this varicose veins treatment are those which might occur whenever a surgical procedure is performed:

  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Local infection, especially if the leg is already suffering from other skin conditions such as fungal infections or ulcers
  • Swollen legs, bruises and scars could happen after the intervention

Varicose veins can also reoccur in the patient, especially if there is no preventative care. More serious risks refer to the injury of the saphenous nerve, which can cause burning sensations and numbness, or seroma, which consists of the accumulation of lymph or blood serum in the tissues. The injury of the saphenous nerve typically goes away on its own in time, while the seroma can be treated only with a new surgical intervention.

However, if injuries are done to the arteries in the groin or thigh area, the complications can be extremely severe and even lead to amputation. There is also the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

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