Vein Ligation and Stripping

Vein ligation and vein stripping are two procedures that are used in the treatment of varicose veins. While these two procedures do not address possible underlying issues in the deep vein system of the legs, they are effective options for treating bulging surface veins that are unattractive or painful. During these procedures, damaged veins are either tied off or removed, depending on the extent of damage, in a minor outpatient surgical procedure.

How do vein ligation and stripping procedures work?

Vein ligation and stripping work by tying off or removing damaged surface veins through a simple surgical procedure. This is done in an effort to improve the appearance of the legs, relieve leg pain, cramps, swelling or fatigue, prevent or treat ulceration that can be caused by varicose veins, or to prevent future complications, such as blood clots.

What are the advantages of surgical ligation and stripping over other vein treatments?
The main advantage of vein ligation and stripping is that these procedures can effectively treat varicose veins that cannot be treated or removed using other available treatment options. These procedures can also be more cost-effective then some newer varicose vein treatment options and are performed in a single session.

Vein ligation and stripping are considered safe procedures that offer long-term results and require minimal recovery time. These procedures can effectively be used to reduce leg pain, swelling and fatigue quickly, and to reduce the appearance of unsightly varicose veins.

Who is a candidate for vein surgery?
Good candidates for vein ligation and stripping include men and women who have varicose veins and would like to remove them due to pain or to improve the appearance of their legs. These procedures are generally used for larger varicose veins; therefore, patients with smaller varicose veins or spider veins may not be good candidates.

People who are not good candidates for vein ligation or stripping include pregnant women, men and women who have poor arterial circulation in the legs, patients with swelling related to lymph blockage, patients with abnormalities in the passageways between arteries and veins, or older patients who have medical conditions that make them poor candidates for any type of surgery.

How is vein ligation performed?

Vein ligation is performed by a vein specialist in a clinical setting, usually using local anesthesia. This outpatient procedure involves making very small incisions over the problem vein, through which the vein is tied off at the faulty valve. Vein ligation is generally used on veins with smaller areas of damage and few faulty veins. When problem areas are tied off, but the vein is left intact, the healthy portion of the vein is allowed to continue to be involved in circulating blood in the legs.

How is vein stripping performed?

Vein stripping is an outpatient procedure that is performed by a vein specialist using either local or general anesthesia. In this procedure, small incisions are made below the damaged vein, through which an instrument is threaded into the vein to grasp the vein and remove it through the incision. This procedure is reserved for veins that have several faulty valves and cannot be partially preserved to maintain circulation through that vein.

What is the recovery like for each?

Most patients are able to return home the same day after receiving vein ligation and stripping and are encouraged to walk or perform other light activities right away. In general, patients are able to return to work and their regular activities within a few days after treatment and should be at least somewhat physically active to avoid complications and encourage circulation. Compression stockings will need to be worn for between two and six weeks after surgery, and strenuous activities should be avoided for several weeks.

What will my results be like?

Most patients experience immediate and long-lasting relief from the pain associated with varicose veins, as well as improved appearance of their legs.

What are the risks?

Risks associated with vein ligation and stripping include scarring and the return of varicose veins. If there is also damage to the deep vein system of the legs, these procedures can increase problems with blood flow, which is why a full diagnostic examination with ultrasound mapping is an important step in determining if vein ligation and stripping is right for you. Additional risks include the normal risks associated with any type of surgery, such as infection or bleeding.

Is vein surgery covered by insurance companies?

Vein ligation and stripping may be covered by medical insurance if the procedures are considered medically necessary, such as when patients experience painful symptoms. If patients pursue vein surgery solely for cosmetic purposes, it is generally not covered by medical insurance.

How much does vein surgery cost?

A number of factors influence the cost of vein surgery, including the combination of procedures required, geographical location, surgeon’s fees and the number of veins to be treated. To confirm the cost of receiving vein ligation and stripping in your area, contact a local vein specialist to schedule a consultation.

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