General Information

What are Vein Ligation and Vein Stripping Procedures?
Vein ligation and vein stripping are two treatment options for varicose veins that are often used jointly to treat bulging surface veins. While vein ligation and vein stripping are not intended to treat problems in the deep veins of the legs, they can be effectively used in the treatment of surface varicose veins to reduce the appearance or alleviate associated pain. Both procedures are performed by a vein specialist and are minor surgeries performed on an outpatient basis.

How do they work?

Vein ligation and stripping are used as treatment or preventive measures to alleviate pain, cramps, fatigue or swelling in the legs, to treat or prevent ulceration caused by varicose veins, to reduce the appearance of unsightly veins or to prevent complications, such as further vein damage or blood clots. This is accomplished by either tying off the vein through vein ligation, or removing the vein completely through vein stripping.

What are the advantages of surgical ligation and stripping over other vein treatments?

The advantages of vein ligation and stripping center on the effectiveness of these procedures in providing long-lasting relief from pain and improvement in appearance of varicose veins that may not be candidates for other treatment options. Patients also enjoy the opportunity to correct their varicose veins in a single treatment session. Both of these procedures are considered safe and provide long-term relief with minimal downtime.

Who is a candidate for vein surgery?
The best candidates for this type of vein surgery include women and men who have problem varicose veins that need to be removed to alleviate pain or improve leg appearance. Because these two procedures are usually reserved for large varicose veins, people who have spider veins or small varicose veins will most likely be guided towards other procedures.

Poor candidates for vein ligation and stripping include women and men who are experiencing insufficient arterial circulation in their legs, pregnant women, patients experiencing swelling due to lymph blockage, those with abnormal passageways going between arteries and other veins, and older patients with medical conditions that make them poor candidates for surgery.

How is vein ligation performed?
A vein specialist will perform the vein ligation procedure, generally with local anesthesia and as an outpatient surgery, in a clinical setting. The specialist will make small incisions over the damaged vein to tie off areas with faulty valves. This procedure is usually used on veins with few faulty valves and minimal damage, and allows the healthy sections of the vein to continue circulating blood.

How is vein stripping performed?

A vein specialist will perform the vein stripping surgery using either general or local anesthesia, usually on an outpatient basis. To perform this surgery, the specialist will make small incisions below the damaged veins and will thread an instrument through the incision to take hold of the vein and remove it. Vein stripping is usually used on veins that are more severely damaged or have several faulty veins.

What is the recovery like for each?

Vein ligation and stripping procedures can be completed in a single session and the patient almost always can go home the same day. Patients are encouraged to participate in light physical activity, such as walking, the same day and should continue light physical activity throughout recovery to avoid complications. People can usually go back to work and normal activities within a few days, although strenuous physical activity should be avoided for several weeks. Patients will need to wear compression stockings for two to six weeks after receiving vein ligation and stripping.

What will my results be like?

Most people who receive vein ligation and stripping will experience long-lasting reduction in the appearance of varicose veins and the associated pain right away.

What are the risks?

The risks of receiving vein ligation and stripping include the return of the varicose veins, scarring and the typical risks associated with surgery, including bleeding or infection. If damage is present in the deep veins of the legs, these procedures can actually increase issues with blood flow, which is why ultrasound imaging is an important part of determining the extent of damage prior to treatment.

Is vein surgery covered by insurance companies?

If vein ligation and stripping procedures are pursued for cosmetic purposes alone, they will most likely not be covered by medical insurance policies; however, if patients are experiencing pain associated with varicose veins, the procedures may be deemed medically necessary and may be covered.

How much does vein surgery cost?

The cost of vein surgery is influenced by several factors, including geographical location, surgeon fees, the number of damaged veins to be treated, and the combination of procedures needed. Scheduling a consultation with a local vein specialist is the best way to determine the cost of receiving treatment in your area.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: October 14, 2009