Vein Ligation and Stripping

Vein ligation and stripping procedures are used to treat damaged leg veins. These veins are usually called varicose veins and are most often seen on the legs as dark blue or purple bulging, tortuous lines. Although small varicose veins are often more of a cosmetic issue than a health problem, larger varicose veins may indicate a serious issue and usually require treatment.

While vein ligation and stripping may be used for cosmetic reasons to remove unsightly veins, it is most often used to treat:

  • Aching, swollen legs that feels heavy, especially after standing for a long time.
  • Bleeding varicose veins
  • Ulcers or open sores in areas of poor circulation
  • Damaged veins connected to the superficial and deep veins in the groin or knee.

Vein ligation and stripping is generally used to treat large varicose veins. Smaller varicose veins are treated by sclerotherapy or laser procedures.

Vein ligation and stripping is a minor surgery and can be performed in a vein specialist’s office as an outpatient procedure.

Varicose veins are caused by damage to the valves in a vein that normally prevent pooling of blood in the vein. Damaged valves allow blood to pool and causes swelling of the veins and areas of poor circulation.

During the ligation procedure, the vascular surgeon makes one or several incisions over the damaged veins. Using these incisions the vein is ligated (tied off). In the event the ligation interrupts blood flow to a faulty valve, but, the vein and its valves below the faulty valve are healthy, the surgeon may not strip the vein so that it is able to continue providing blood through veins that have properly working valves.

When a number of valves in a vein are involved, the vein, or the diseased part of it is surgically removed – stripped. To do this, the surgeon makes and incision below the vein. The surgeon then inserts a flexible instrument up through the initial incision. Using the instrument he grabs the vein and removes it.

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