Varicose Vein Surgery

There are several surgical options for treating varicose veins, including surgical ligation and stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy, and endoscopic vein surgery. With surgical ligation and stripping, problematic veins are tied shut and completely removed from the leg. Removing the veins does not affect the circulation of blood in the leg. Ambulatory phlebectomy involves a special light source used to mark the location of the vein. The vein is then removed through small incisions. In endoscopic vein surgery, a small camera is used to see inside the veins. Then varicose veins are removed through small cuts.

An Introduction to Varicose Vein Surgery

There are a number of different varicose vein treatment options, depending on your particular situation. These may include:
  • Compression stocking
  • Other self-care strategies
  • Procedures such as sclerotherapy or vein ablation (which uses a laser or radiofrequency)
  • Surgery.


This eMedTV article will discuss the different surgical options for varicose veins. To learn about other treatments for varicose veins, click Varicose Vein Treatment.
Surgery is used mostly to treat large varicose veins. Specific options include:
  • Surgical ligation and stripping
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy
  • Endoscopic vein surgery.

Surgical Ligation and Stripping

With this varicose vein surgery, problematic veins are tied shut and completely removed from the leg. Removing the veins does not affect the circulation of blood in the leg. Veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood. Most varicose veins removed by surgery are surface veins and collect blood only from the skin.
This surgery for varicose veins requires either local or general anesthesia, and must be done in an operating room on an outpatient basis.
Possible side effects from this surgery may include the following:
  • There is a risk of heart and breathing problems from the general anesthesia.
  • Bleeding and congestion of blood can be a problem; however, the collected blood usually settles on its own and does not require any further treatment.
  • Wound infection, inflammation, swelling, and redness.
  • Permanent scars.
  • Damage of nerve tissue around the treated vein. It is hard to avoid harming small nerve branches when veins are removed. This damage can cause numbness, burning, or a change in sensation around the surgical scar.
  • A deep-vein blood clot. These clots can travel to the lungs and heart. Injections of heparin, a medicine that reduces blood clotting, reduce the chance of these dangerous blood clots. Heparin also can increase the normal amount of bleeding and bruising after surgery.
  • Significant pain in the leg and recovery time of one to four weeks, depending on the extent of surgery, is typical afterwards.
Serious side effects or problems from this surgery are uncommon.

Information About Varicose Veins

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