Varicose vein stripping


Vein stripping is surgery to remove varicose veins in the legs.

Alternative Names

Vein stripping with ligation, avulsion, or ablation; Saphenous vein ligation


Varicose veins are swollen, painful veins that have filled with blood. They usually develop in the legs.

Vein stripping is usually done when a large vein in the leg called the superficial saphenous vein is thick and rope-like.

Vein stripping usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Most people receive either:

Your surgeon will make two or three small surgical cuts in your leg.

If you have other damaged veins, your surgeon may also make small cuts over them to remove them or tie them off.

The doctor will close the cuts with stitches (sutures). You will have bandages and compression stockings on your leg after the procedure.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Vein stripping may be recommended for:

Today, doctors are doing fewer vein stripping surgeries because there are newer, non-surgical ways to treat varicose veins. These other treatments are less painful and have a much faster recovery time. However, these methods are not useful for people who have veins below the knee.


Vein stripping is usually safe. Ask your doctor about any problems that might occur.

The risks from any anesthesia include:

The risks from any surgery include:

The risks from vein stripping include:

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

During the days before your surgery:

On the day of your surgery:

After the Procedure

Your legs will be wrapped with bandages to control swelling and bleeding for 3 - 5 days after surgery. You may need to keep them wrapped for several weeks.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Surgical vein stripping is usually very successful. It reduces pain and improves the appearance of your leg.

Rarely, vein stripping causes scars. However, mild leg swelling can occur. It is important for you to regularly wear compression stockings.


Brar R, Nordon IM, Hinchliffe RJ, Loftus IM, Thompson MM. Surgical management of varicose veins: meta-analysis. Vascular. 2010;18(4):205-220.

Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 65.

Nesbitt C, Eifell RKG, Coyne P, Badri H, Bhattacharya V, Stansby G. Endovenous ablation (radiofrequency and laser) and foam sclerotherapy versus conventional surgery for great saphenous vein varices. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2011:10:CD005624.

Review Date: 5/14/2012
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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