The Old Approach: Vein Stripping and Ligation

Varicose Veins

Until about 20 years ago, open surgical vein stripping and ligation was the standard for treating larger varicose veins in the legs. These procedures were done in the operating room by surgeons making deep incisions in the groins and surgically tying off the veins. This was called “vein stripping.”

Vein stripping usually required general anesthesia in a hospital operating room.  To strip a vein, incisions were made at the groin and near the knee and the vein is grasped and removed from all points in between.

How Vein Stripping and Ligation Was Performed

Since an incision was required in the groin, with dissection of the large veins of the groin, this was an operation that needed to be done in a formal operating room where vascular surgery could be performed if there are any difficulties with the dissection of around the larger femoral vein. Recovery time was significantly longer for vein stripping compared to the newer endovenous techniques we now use exclusively.  This is now a thing of the past.

Side Effects of Vein Stripping and Ligation

Common side effects from vein stripping and ligation surgery included pain or discomfort, bruising, hematoma, numbness, and less frequently wound infection. While vein ligation and stripping were outpatient procedures, they were not usually done in the office setting since a general anesthesia or heavy IV sedation was required.

New Vein Treatment Options

Compared to the older approaches for treating varicose veins, there are now a number of modern options available for patients who need varicose vein treatment. In the early 1990s, physicians and companies developed new techniques that are less invasive and that can be done in the outpatient setting. The best known are radiofrequency ablation technique (the VNUS Closure Procedure), VenaSeal and Varithena.

There is some suggestion that the rate of varicose vein recurrence may be less with endovenous ablation of the saphenous vein, such as radiofrequency ablation, compared to traditional vein ligation and stripping.

At the very least, the newer techniques we offer allow patient to be treated in an outpatient setting where they can walk in, have their treatment, and often in less than an hour, walk out and quickly return to activities the very next day.

The results with modalities such as Closurefast RFAVenaSeal or Varithena are so much better in terms of less pain, faster recovery, fewer complications, better long term outcomes and lower costs. Because these options are easier and less invasive, none of the surgeons at Inovia Vein do vein stripping anymore.


About Inovia Vein Specialty Centers

At Inovia Vein Specialty Centers we are leading vein doctors who specialize in caring for patients with venous disorders such as varicose veins, deep venous thrombosis, and venous stasis ulcers.  Founded in 2006, we have specialty vein clinics across the Pacific Northwest.  Call to set up a consultation to learn more about your treatment options.