Vein ligation and stripping is a minor invasive surgery that helps remove damaged veins and prevent further vein problems in the future. Ligation is used when the valves of the vein are damaged or diseased. The procedure itself is typically done as an outpatient procedure in your vein specialist’s office, an outpatient surgical center, or your local hospital. An overnight stay is usually not required and you can expect to go home the same day.
This procedure helps get rid of unsightly varicose veins, alleviates symptoms associated with vein problems (such as heaviness, pain or swelling), and can prevent further varicose veins in the future.
There are two procedures that can be done to remove varicose veins: ligation and stripping or microphlebectomy.
The procedure does not require a lot of preparation on your part, but there are a few things you can expect:
Depending on the severity of your varicose veins and the number being removed, your surgeon will give you an expected duration of the procedure.
Microphlebectomy is done to reduce the surface of your varicose veins and to prevent further veins from appearing. This procedure is performed using local anesthetic. Before the procedure begins, an assistant will outline the area where the veins are to be removed and then the area will be thoroughly washed and prepared. The procedure itself is done using small needle punctures which is less invasive than vein stripping. The vein is then removed using a special hook apparatus. More than one vein may be removed during the procedure.
After the surgery, the small puncture spots will be closed (no stitches are required) and Steri-Strips will be applied. Your leg will be wrapped and a compression stocking may be used. You should be able to walk shortly after your procedure and about an hour of observation is required before you will be allowed to go home.
Recovery time for this procedure is one to two days.
Vein ligation and stripping takes one to one and a half hours to complete. This procedure is done under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep so that you cannot feel pain. In some cases, you may be able to remain awake, but a spinal anesthetic will be used – which makes the lower half of your body numb to pain.
During this procedure, the vein specialist will make several small incisions in your leg. The incisions are strategically placed around the damaged veins. Then, a thin, flexible piece of plastic wire is inserted into the vein and tied so that it can pull the vein out. Veins that are near the surface may be manually tied in a procedure referred to as ambulatory phlebectomy. After the problematic veins are removed, your surgeon will close the areas with stitches and apply bandages or a compression stocking.
Because this is more invasive, you will wear bandages for up to five days to control bleeding and swelling. Your legs may need to be in compression stockings for several weeks. Scarring is rare, but may occur.
Aftercare for ligation and stripping is more in-depth than microphlebectomy procedures. You can expect:
Because both procedures are considered surgical, there are some risks and complications to consider, which include: