Venous ligation, as the name implies, essentially means tying off varicose veins through small incisions made in the skin at the affected areas. Vein stripping refers to the removal of larger varicose veins in a similar manner. Both procedures are usually done in outpatient surgery centers or in a hospital setting. Many times, both procedures are included in one surgery. Venous ligation is often done in areas where blood pooling occurs due to the weakened veins, while stripping and removal are performed to eliminate more tortuous vessels. This type of surgical intervention is often performed to both treat and reduce the reoccurrence of varicose veins. These procedures are considered surgical procedures, and will require you to follow guidelines to both prepare and recover from the surgery.
How do I prepare for Venous Ligation and Stripping?
The first step to preparing for venous surgery is to discuss all your options with your vein specialist. He or she will more than likely perform a full history and physical, including a full medical and medication history. Laboratory tests will also be performed to identify potential risks, such as hemorrhage, infection, and potential complications from the anesthetics used during the procedure. Ultrasounds and other diagnostic testing will also be performed to pin point the affected areas and determine the proper course of surgery. Often times the areas are marked with ink the day before the surgery.
Some medicines may need to be temporarily stopped before the procedure. These may include blood thinners, such as coumadin, and non-steroidal pain medications, such as Motrin, Advil, and Aleve. Daily aspirin regimens will also be temporarily discontinued prior to the procedure and for a time period after. Heart, blood pressure, and diabetes medications are taken with a small amount of water before the procedure and continued immediately thereafter. Your vein specialist will discuss your presurgical plan with you during your consultations before the surgery.
What Happens After the Surgery?
Venous ligation and stripping are generally shorter and uncomplicated procedures, and patients are usually sent home the same day. In more severe instances, a short hospital stay may be required. A family member or friend will need to be available for transportation after the surgery and should remain with you for a period of 24 hours in case of complications immediately after.
Severe pain is unlikely, but you may experience burning and tingling after the surgery. If numbness and discolorations are noted to unaffected areas after the procedure, it is important to notify your vein surgeon. For general discomfort, mild painkillers, such as ibuprofen are usually prescribed or recommended.
You will more than likely come home with dressings after the surgery. Those should not be changed for 1 to 2 days after the procedure unless they become soiled. Compression stockings should also be worn continuously after the procedure for at least three days. The stockings should only be taken off when showering or sleeping during that time.
Avoid prolonged sitting or standing after the procedure and exercise regimens can be generally resumed one to two weeks after. Walking short distances is generally indicted 24 to 48 hours after surgery, and the intensity and duration of your walks can be increased as swelling, pain, and stiffness are relieved. You may usually resume driving 48 hours after surgery.