Treatments & Therapies

Stripping – Treatment, Effects & Risks

Stripping

The vein doctor understands stripping as the surgical removal of varicose veins using a special probe. The diseased veins are pulled out of the affected area during stripping. The risks of the procedure include, in particular, lymphatic congestion due to injured lymph vessels .

What is stripping?

Stripping is an operation to remove varicose veins. The procedure is also known as vein stripping . This operation is the standard therapy for treating patients with varicose veins. Varicose veins are nodular enlarged veins. Most often, the veins of the legs and their main trunks are affected by the phenomenon. Around 30 percent of all people suffer from varicose veins and are therefore at increased risk of thrombosis and circulatory disorders .

The circulatory disorders can eventually damage the entire leg. The removal of varicose veins is usually essential because of these risks. Mainly truncal vein varicose veins are removed by surgical stripping. All enlarged and altered veins are taken from the superficial vein system. Stripping has been used since the beginning of the 20th century. In the meantime, however, there are also minimally invasive options for removing varicose veins. An example of such a method is the Chiva method.

Function, effect & goals

Stripping frees patients with varicose veins from knotty dilated veins. In order to determine a treatment method against varicose veins, the patient is first thoroughly examined by the vein doctor. This examination primarily includes ultrasound procedures and vein function tests. For example, patients whose inner leg veins are affected by functional disorders are unsuitable for stripping.The same applies to patients whose varicose veins are caused by thrombosis. Stripping is also generally not recommended in the case of severe general diseases. In women who are pregnant , stripping is usually postponed in order to rule out any risks. If the decision for stripping has been made for truncal vein varicose veins, the patient is put under general anesthesia , partial anesthesia or local anesthesia . Which form of anesthesia is used and whether inpatient admission is required depends on the patient’s mental state and the severity of the findings .

Depending on the position of the varicose veins, after the anesthesia , the surgeon places either in the groin region or in the back of the kneean incision about five centimeters long. This incision serves as access to the venous system. Through the access, the doctor localizes the junction of the knotted vein with the deep vein. This confluence is prevented. Confluences of smaller blood vessels in the affected region are also prevented. The doctor then inserts a special probe, which corresponds to a thin wire, through the incision. This thin wire is advanced through the portal to the diseased area. A second skin incision allows the wire to protrude outwards again. The affected vein is now fixed to the probe. Only then does the actual stripping take place. The fixed vein is pulled out of the leg downwards.

Smaller side branches with pathological changes are then removed with tiny skin pricks. After the stripping, the doctor closes the access. He usually uses a self-dissolving thread that is sewn under the skin . After a stripping, the patient wears compression stockings for three to six weeks to prevent thrombosis. In most cases, an anticoagulant treatment with heparin also takes place, which lasts for several days.

Varicose veins may form again after the stripping. According to studies, the recurrence rate is related to the professionalism of the operating doctor. For example, recurring varicose veins are often caused by an incompletely removed saphenous vein.

Risks, side effects & dangers

Stripping leaves visible scars as a two-inch incision is required for the operation. Although the incision is made in discrete regions, the remaining scars often lead patients today to prefer minimally invasive varicose vein treatments. Procedures like the Chiva method are way ahead of stripping in terms of scarring.Like any other operation, stripping is associated with risks such as wound healing disorders , infections or bruising and the associated hardening. In addition to these conventional surgical and anesthetic risks, stripping also entails risks such as lymph or nerve injuries . If the lymphatic vessels in the affected region are injured, the lymphatic fluid can congest, for example. The leg will swell as a result and the fluid may need to be drained. On the other hand, if nerves are injured during the operation, sensory disturbances can occur in the affected area.

Slight numbness is common, but usually resolves. Overall, the risk of complications from this operation is considered extremely low. A slight pain may occur after the operation. Apart from this phenomenon, however, side effects are extremely rare, since the operation is now a standard procedure. The risk of clots in the relevant vein sections is kept low, for example, using procedures such as compression therapy.

However, not wearing the compression stockings could have serious consequences and promote thrombosis. Since self-dissolving threads are usually used to close the incisions during stripping, the patient usually does not have to have any threads removed after the operation. Nevertheless, there are follow-up appointments to check wound healing.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.