Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.
What you need to know about vein stripping:
Vein stripping is surgery to remove varicose veins. Varicose veins are large, twisted veins that bulge out under your skin.
How to prepare for vein stripping:
Your provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. Tell a provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.
What will happen during vein stripping:
You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your provider will make 1 or more small incisions near the vein to be removed. You may need more incisions if other veins will be removed. The provider will stop the blood flow through the vein. Small tools will be used to separate the varicose vein from other blood vessels and tissues. The vein may be removed through one of the incisions. A drain may be inserted near your incision to remove extra blood and fluid. The incisions will be closed with stitches or Steri strips™ and covered with bandages.
What will happen after vein stripping:
Recovery takes about 3 to 6 weeks. You will need to wear pressure bandages or compression stockings on your legs. These usually stay on for about 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You may have numbness in small areas of your legs that comes and goes. You should not have large areas of numbness or discomfort that does not go away.
Risks of vein stripping:
Your leg may bruise, swell, or get infected. You may also have scarring where the incisions were made. Your varicose veins may come back. You may bleed more than expected. Your nerves may be damaged, which can cause pain, numbness, or a burning feeling in your leg. You may also have trouble moving your leg or foot. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This may become life-threatening.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- You have trouble moving your leg or foot.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You have numbness in your legs or feet that does not go away.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for your wound as directed:
Keep your incisions clean and dry. When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.
- Wear pressure stockings if directed. You may need to wear pressure stockings for several weeks to months after surgery. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. This improves blood flow, prevents clots, and helps you recover from surgery.
- Walk often if you can. Even 10 minutes of light walking will help improve blood flow and prevent blood clots. Ask your provider about the best exercise plan for you.
- Do not sit or stand for long periods of time. This can cause the blood to collect in your legs and damage your veins. Bend or rotate your ankles several times every hour.
- Do not dangle your legs or cross your legs when you sit. This decreases blood flow to your feet and can cause blockage or swelling in your legs.
- Elevate your legs about 30 degrees and support your entire leg. Do this several times a day or as directed. Prop the end of your bed up slightly to elevate your legs while you sleep. This will help blood to flow back to your heart.
- Do not wear tight clothing or shoes. Do not wear high-heeled shoes. Do not wear clothes that are tight around the waist, knees, or ankles.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for the varicose veins to return. Ask your provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to return to have your incision checked and drain or stitches removed. You may need more blood tests or another ultrasound to check blood flow in your legs. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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