If you have large varicose veins that are difficult to treat you may be a candidate for vein stripping.
What is vein stripping?
Vein stripping is known as the more “traditional” way to remove a damaged vein and prevent complications from vein damage. If you have both small and large varicose veins, vein stripping can be used in combination with newer, more minimally invasive procedures such as ablation or sclerotherapy.
Your doctor may recommend vein stripping if you have:
- Constant pain, throbbing, and tenderness in your legs
- Skin sores or open wounds (ulcers)
- Blood clots
- Extremely painful veins or bleeding from veins
What To Expect
A small incision is made at the top and bottom of your damaged vein (one will be in your groin, the other will be farther down your leg, either in your calf or ankle). A thin, flexible plastic wire is thread into the vein through the groin incision, tied to the vein and then pulled out through the cut in the lower leg, removing the vein. The incisions are stitched closed and then bandaged.
Vein stripping is often done on an outpatient basis and takes between 60 and 90 minutes. Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you will receive either general or spinal anesthesia.
After the Procedure
Depending on how many veins you have stripped and where they were located, expect a recovery time of about two to four weeks. Unless recommended otherwise, you should be allowed to go home on the same day.
Pain medication can be prescribed to help with discomfort, but it’s important to stay off your feet as much as possible for the first three to four days and elevate your legs at all times when sitting. After four days, you can remove your bandages; however you will want to continue elevating your legs while sitting for approximately two weeks. You should be able to return to normal activities within four weeks.
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