Surgery for varicose veins
Varicose veins are the enlarged, swollen, twisted veins raised above the skin surface. They appear as dark purple or blue in color and are more commonly seen on the inside of the leg and thighs but can develop anywhere in the body. In normal veins, valves keep blood in the vein moving toward the heart and prevent backward flow of blood within the vein. In varicose veins, the valves do not function properly and impair the circulation where the blood may flow back or may get collected at one site resulting in enlargement.
Vein stripping surgery is a technique used to treat varicose veins. Vein stripping is indicated for varicose veins that cause problems such as leg pain, ulcers or sores, blood clots, or inflammation in the veins and for lipodermatosclerosis (hardening of the fatty tissue under the skin due to prolonged effects of high venous pressure). It is also indicated for improving the aesthetic appearance of the leg.
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and the procedure takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours. The surgery is done to remove a large vein in the leg called the superficial saphenous vein. Two small surgical incisions or cuts near the top and bottom of damaged vein are made in the leg. A thin, flexible plastic wire is used for the procedure and is then threaded into the vein through the groin (area where upper thigh meets the trunk). The wire is guided through the vein toward the other incision farther down the leg. The stripper is then pulled downward through the lower incision along with the vein. Hooks may also be used to pull out the veins during this procedure. Other damaged veins are removed through the series of small incisions. The veins that connect to the deeper veins are then tied off. The incisions are closed with the sutures.
Bandages to control swelling and bleeding; and compression stockings to reduce the amount of blood and pressure in the veins are used after the procedure.
During rest, the legs should be positioned at levels above the heart. Pillows or blankets can be used for height.
Avoid sitting or standing in one place for a long period and also avoid strenuous physical activity for few weeks after surgery.
Stripping surgery is associated with risks and complications that may be related to anesthesia or to the surgical procedure. The common risks may be general such as nausea and vomiting or problems at site of surgery such as infections, bruising, soft tissue injury and scarring.