Many people suffer from varicose veins. These gnarled, swollen blood vessels are found most often in the legs. Whilst they can sometimes lead to more serious conditions, such as skin ulcers and blood clots, in most cases, they merely cause some minor aches and pains. However, because large varicose veins can be somewhat unsightly, many people choose to have them removed. Whilst small varicose veins can usually be treated with minor procedures like sclerotherapy, larger ones often need to be removed using surgical methods. Here are two common types of operations which a vascular surgeon may use to treat severe varicose veins.
Endovenous Laser surgery
Endovenous laser surgery, as its name suggests, involves using a special type of laser to shrink a varicose vein. This can be performed with local, rather than general, anaesthesia. If the patient is nervous, they may also be offered a mild sedative.
Before carrying out the procedure, the surgeon will use an ultrasound machine to examine the affected vein. Then, after numbing the leg, they will make a very small incision and gently push a piece of tubing (called a catheter) through this opening, into the varicose vein. This catheter will contain a laser fibre.
When the insertion is complete, the surgeon will then slowly begin to pull the catheter out; during this period of time, the laser will release short bursts of heat energy, which will help to close off the vein. This closing off of it will eventually result in the vein shrinking. Recovery times after this type of surgery can vary, but most people will be back to normal after approximately one to two weeks.
Stripping and Ligation
For severe varicose vein cases, medical professionals often recommend a surgery known as stripping and ligation, which consists of the vein being tied up and pulled out of the leg. During the first stage of this operation, the vascular surgeon will make two incisions. They will then use one of these incisions to access the top of the varicose vein so that they can seal it. Following this, the surgeon will place a long, pliable piece of wire into the other incision, guiding it through the vein. Once it is as been fully inserted, it will then be used to pull out the vein.
This operation can take several hours and is always carried out using general anaesthesia. It is normally performed as an outpatient procedure. The recovery time for this operation is sometimes longer than that associated with the aforementioned endovenous laser procedure. Whilst some patients are up and about after just a week, others may take up to a month to completely recover.