What is ligation and stripping for venous disease?

Ligation means the surgical tying of veins through a small incision in the skin to prevent pooling of blood. Ligation may be used in conjunction with vein stripping, or removal of the vein. In many instances, the vein is removed using a minimally invasive surgical procedure called venous ablation.

Why is this procedure performed? Why do I need this procedure?

Surgery is done for two main reasons. The first is to treat varicose veins. In conjunction with removal of the varicose veins, ligation and stripping of veins is often performed to help prevent recurrence of the varicose veins. This is typically done if there is evidence of valvular incompetence within the main veins that give rise to the varicose veins.

Ligation and stripping is also done when pooling of blood occurs secondary to venous incompetence, and patients suffer from symptoms of venous insufficiency. These symptoms include leg swelling, skin changes, pain and, in severe cases, ulceration. The removal of the malfunctioning vein helps to control symptoms, and in cases of ulceration it helps the ulcers to heal. Surgical removal or stripping of the vein is rarely needed but may be recommended in some situations to treat superficial venous thrombosis or phlebitis.

Each patient is evaluated, and treatment will be individualized for the patient’s circumstances.

Where is the procedure performed and who performs this procedure?

Surgical treatments are performed in the hospital or outpatient setting by a vascular surgeon.

What are the risks and potential complications of the procedure?

Your doctor will discuss the specific risks and potential benefits of the recommended procedure with you. This is generally a very safe procedure, causing relatively little pain and, in most cases, is well-tolerated. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are risks, including infection at the site of the incisions, the development of a clot in the vein in the leg, and irritation of a nerve that runs along with the veins that are typically stripped.

Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks, and there may be other possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand the risks of the procedure and why the procedure is recommended.