Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and enlarged veins that you can see under the skin. They are often red or blue in colour. They usually appear in the legs but can occur in other parts of the body.
Normally, valves in your veins keep your blood flowing up toward the heart, so the blood does not collect in one place. The valves in varicose veins are either damaged or missing. This causes the veins to become filled with blood, particularly when you are standing.
Vein stripping is used to remove or tie off a large vein in the leg called the superficial saphenous vein. This helps treat varicose veins.
Vein stripping usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
You may receive either:
- General anaesthesia, in which you will be asleep and unable to feel pain.
- Spinal anaesthesia, which will make the lower half of your body feel numb. You may also get medicine to help you relax.
- Your surgeon will make 2 or 3 small cuts in your leg.
- The cuts are near the top, middle, and bottom of your damaged vein. One is in your groin. The other will be farther down your leg, either in your calf or ankle.
- Your surgeon will then thread a thin, flexible plastic wire into the vein through your groin and guide the wire through the vein toward the other cut farther down your leg.
- The wire is then tied to the vein and pulled out through the lower cut, which pulls the vein out with it.
- If you have other damaged veins near the surface of your skin, your surgeon may also make small cuts over them to remove them or tie them off. This is called ambulatory phlebectomy.
- The surgeon will close the cuts with stitches.
- You will wear bandages and compression stockings on your leg after the procedure.