Treatment of Varicose Veins of the Leg
- Sclerotherapy—injects the varicose veins with a chemical to shrink the veins
- Radiofrequency ablation—collapses and seals varicose veins using radiofrequency energy
- Vein stripping
- A surgical procedure called phlebectomy
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Reasons for Procedure
- Recurrence of varicose veins
- Skin discoloration at the surgical site
- A blood clot, known as deep vein thrombosis
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Evaluate your deep and superficial vein systems and decide which veins will be removed or destroyed
- Do an ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine the veins in your legs
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners
- Wear special support stockings.
- If you have a stasis ulcer, wear Unna boots. This is a type of cast that will aid in healing the ulcer.
Description of the Procedure
After the Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
- Sclerotherapy—short office visit
- Radiofrequency or laser ablation—1 hour
- Vein stripping—1-1½ hours
- Phlebectomy—2-4 hours
Will It Hurt?
- If you had vein stripping, keep your legs elevated while you are resting. This will help to minimize pressure on your veins.
- If you had sclerotherapy or ablation, resume normal activity within a few hours.
- Wear an elastic bandage for the first 24-48 hours, or as instructed by your doctor.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. You may need to have another ultrasound done.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
- Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Leg swelling
American College of Phlebology http://www.phlebology.org
American Society of Plastic Surgeons http://www.plasticsurgery.org
Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery http://www.csaps.ca
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery http://canadianvascular.ca
Merchant RF, Pichot O, Closure Study Group. Long-term outcomes of endovenous radiofrequency obliteration of saphenous reflux as a treatment for superficial venous insufficiency. J Vasc Surg. 2005; 42(3):502-509.
Varicose veins. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 29, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Varicose veins. VascularWeb website. Available at: http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/pages/varicose-veins.aspx. Updated January 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Varicose veins and spider veins fact sheet. US Office on Women's Health. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/varicose-spider-veins.cfm. Updated June 2, 2010. Accessed August 8, 2013.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO; Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -