Varicose Vein Ligation and StrippingUntil recently, varicose vein ligation and stripping was the standard for treating venous insufficiency in larger varicose veins. In ligation, these veins are treated by making an incision over the vein and tying it off. If the vein is heavily damaged, it is usually removed, or stripped. To strip a varicose vein, incisions are made at the groin and near the knee and the vein is grasped and removed. Most people are able to return to their normal daily and recreational activities within a few weeks.
Vein ligation and stripping is effective in producing positive long-term results in 71% of treated legs being free of reflux, the underlying cause of varicose veins, at five years.* Some common side effects from varicose vein stripping and ligation surgery may include temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, hematoma, numbness, and - less frequently - wound infection or deep vein thrombosis.
Varicose vein stripping is an invasive procedure and should not be performed on older individuals for whom surgery poses a risk due to other medical conditions. It is also not an appropriate choice for people who have circulatory problems of the legs, skin infections, blood-clotting defects or abnormal passageways between artery and vein. Pregnant women are also inappropriate candidates for varicose vein stripping.
*Source: Dwerryhouse S, Davies B, Harradine K, Earnshaw JJ. Stripping the long saphenous vein reduces the rate of reoperation for recurrent varicose veins: five-year results of a randomized trial. J Vasc Surg 1999; 29:589-592.