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What is it?
Varicose vein stripping is a surgical treatment option that is performed to remove the varicose veins from the legs or thighs.

varicose veins stripping

Varicose veins are the swollen, twisted, and enlarged veins that can be seen below the skin. They are often red or blue in color. They are typically seen in the legs but can occur in other parts of the body.

The veins have one-way valves that prevent the blood from flowing back up towards the heart, so the blood does not get collected in one place. When the valves in varicose veins are damaged or missing then blood starts to get collected in the vein rather than flowing to the heart. This leads to the veins to be filled with blood leading to painful and swollen veins, particularly when the patient is standing.

When is it needed?
The doctors usually recommend Varicose Veins Stripping when the patient experiences some of the following symptoms:

  • Constant pain throbbing in the legs
  • Skin sores and ulcers
  • Blood clots in the veins
  • Bleeding from the veins

Pre-Procedure
The doctor will perform a physical examination of the patient before performing the Varicose Vein Stripping procedure. This will help in determining the location of the valves that are damaged or not working. They are done using

  • Handheld Ultrasound Device to get a better view of the veins and the valves.
  • Duplex Scan is also done to get clear images of the affected veins and the amount of blood flow, which can rule out any clots or thromboses in the veins.

The patient is advised to inform the doctor of any prescription medicines or over-the-counter medications being taken presently. The doctor might be recommended to avoid taking some medications that can cause heavy bleeding during the varicose vein stripping process.

Procedure
The Varicose Vein Stripping is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, i.e., the patient can go home the same day. It usually takes a couple of hours depending on the severity of the varicose veins.

The patient will be administered either of the following anaesthesia, depending on the surgeon’s advice:

  • General Anaesthesia: will put the patient to sleep throughout the procedure.
  • Spinal Anaesthesia: will only numb the lower part of the body keeping the patient awake during the procedure.

The surgeon will then make several incisions or cuts, usually small one, either on top or below the damaged veins. One more incision will be made in the groin and another further down the leg, either in the calf or ankle.

A thin, flexible plastic wire is first threaded into the vein through the incision in the groin and then tied to the vein. This wire is then pulled out through the incision made in the lower part of the leg.

Once all the varicose veins are stripped or removed, the surgeon will close the incisions using stitches and then place bandages and compression stocking on the legs.

Post Procedure
The patient might take 2-4 weeks to recover from varicose vein stripping, depending on the number of veins stripped and their location.

The patient might experience swelling, bruising, change in skin color and pain after the procedure. The legs will be wrapped with bandages to control the swelling and bleeding for three to five days after surgery. In some cases, it might be wrapped for several weeks.

The doctor might do the following:

  • Prescribe pain medications to relieve the pain
  • Recommend not standing or using the feet for the first couple of days.
  • Keep the legs elevated while sitting, by using pillows to prop up the legs.

Risk factors
In rare cases, some patients might experience the following risk factors:

  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection at the incision sites
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Bruising
  • Nerve injury

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