Varicose veins surgery

What is varicose veins surgery?

While more modern procedures such as sclerotherapy and ablation are generally favoured these days for the treatment of varicose veins, surgery is still an option in some cases. This type of surgery is usually called ‘ligation and stripping’. Varicose vein surgery is often carried out under general anaesthetic (which means you will not be conscious during the procedure).

Why is it done?

Varicose veins are often considered to be an aesthetic problem, but they can also cause pain and discomfort. Treatment is often advised by a doctor if varicose veins are uncomfortable and painful, or if they are related to other complications such as leg ulcers or discolouration in the skin. They can also be treated for cosmetic reasons, generally in a private clinic.

What does it involve?

Varicose vein surgery, or ‘ligation and stripping’ first consists of tying the vein in the leg, by making two small incisions in the leg. After these two incisions are made, the varicose vein is tied and sealed, and is then removed. Surgery usually takes around two to three hours, but you can generally go home after the procedure has been performed, after a short rest period in the clinic or hospital.  

How do you prepare for varicose veins surgery?

You will first discuss treatment for varicose veins with a specialist to check that you are eligible for surgical treatment. Your specialist will advise you on any precautions you may need to take before the procedure, such as advising on medication you will not be able to take. Ask your surgeon if you will need to stay overnight in hospital, which is not common, but occurs in some cases. Check with your surgeon who will be performing the procedure and ask any questions you have about the procedure beforehand.


After the surgery, you will most likely have to wear compression stockings for a few days, or for up to a week. You will need to rest and elevate your leg whenever possible. Follow the advice provided by your surgeon. Generally, you will need some time off work to properly recover. This depends on the work which you do, and your health in general. Check with your surgeon when you will be able to return to work.

Alternatives to this treatment

Varicose veins can also be treated through foam sclerotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and endovenous laser treatment.

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