What is vein ligation and stripping?
Vein ligation and stripping is a minor surgery. It is used to remove one or more varicose veins. These are twisted, swollen veins near the surface of the skin. They are most common in the legs and ankles. The surgery can also be done to prevent venous skin ulcers from coming back after treatment.
You may be asleep during the surgery, but it also can be done while you are awake. If you are awake, you will get medicine to numb your leg and prevent pain. The doctor will make small cuts in the area and then tie off (ligation) and remove the vein (stripping).
You will probably go home the same day as the surgery. You will need to take it easy at home for at least a few days after the surgery. How long it takes for you to recover depends on how many veins are removed.
After surgery, other veins in the legs will take over the work of the veins that are removed.
How do you prepare for surgery?
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
Preparing for surgery
- For several days before surgery, do not shave the skin on the leg that will be operated on. The skin could get irritated, which could lead to infection.
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
- If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of surgery?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery center
Bring a picture ID.
The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
- You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.
Where can you learn more?
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