Surgery for Varicose Veins

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Surgery is a good option for the treatment of varicose veins as it is effective in removing both large and small varicose veins. Surgery can be performed on the NHS if your varicose veins are seen to cause you discomfort. If they are not seen to be a problem then the surgery is considered to be cosmetic and you will have to pay to have it done privately.

Before the Surgery

You may be required to stop using contraceptive medication, or hormone replacement therapy for a month before your surgery, this is because they increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis although not all surgeons insist that you stop taking them. If you have had a previous thrombosis, you may be prescribed blood thinners or compression socks to reduce your risk of developing thrombosis again.

Immediately before the surgery, you will visit the surgeon who will mark the position of your varicose veins whilst you stand up. This is to ensure that they remain visible when you lie down on the operating table. You will then see the anaesthetist who will give you either a general or a local anaesthetic depending on the severity of your surgery.

Types of Surgery for Varicose Veins

There are different types of surgery for the removal of varicose veins each of which suits different people better. Most common surgery is known as high tie or saphenofemoral ligation. First, the saphenous vein is stripped through an incision in the groin; this is believed to reduce the need for repeat treatments. Cuts will then be made near the varicose veins and they will be disconnected from the deeper veins and removed. The cuts are small and are usually closed without stitches although they may sometimes be required.

A new type of surgery called a transilluminated powered phlebectomy is becoming popular, as it is less invasive. The surgery will take place in a darkened room and a light will be placed under your skin so that the surgeon can see the exact location of the vein. A fluid will be placed under the skin to loosen the vein and anaesthetise the area. The vein remover is then guided to the varicose veins by the light. This cuts the vein into small pieces, which are removed from the body through suction. This only requires small incisions meaning that you can resume your normal lifestyle straight away.

Vein litigation is sometimes used to treat varicose veins although it is rare. Cuts are made over the varicose vein, which is then tied off. This stops the blood flow to the varicose vein making it less visible. This technique does not treat the underlying problem meaning that there is a high recurrence rate.

Choosing a Surgery for Varicose Veins

When choosing a surgery for your varicose veins you should seek medical advice. It is worth talking to your GP even if you cannot get surgery on the NHS. They will be able to advise you on treatment options and what they believe to be your best one. This provides you with objective advice, which may differ from that of someone who will gain financially. You should talk to your surgeon about the recovery period and any complications that may arise from the surgery. It is important that you research each type of surgery including:

  • The anaesthetic used
  • Treatment time
  • After care
  • Recovery time
  • Risk of infection or complications
  • Possibility of repeat treatments

As with any surgery you should be fully prepared for the complications that may arise this will allow you to make an informed decision about which type of surgery would be best suited for your lifestyle

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