Varicose veins can be disfiguring and painful but it is not always that they need surgical treatment. Sometimes the condition comes and goes especially in cases where it is caused by temporal factors such as pregnancy or the nature of occupation. The cardinal rule is, if the condition is not causing you any discomfort, you do not have to seek treatment of varicose veins. However, treatment is often wanted for aesthetic reasons.

However, there are some instances where the surgical treatment of varicose veins is important. This is where the varicose veins are causing pain and you want to ease the symptoms. Also, in an attempt to treat complications such as skin discoloration, swelling, or leg ulcers, you may have to result to medical attention. Some sufferers of varicose veins have had to seek private treatment particularly for cosmetic reasons.

So, exactly what options are there for the treatment of varicose veins?



Medical Treatment For Varicose Veins – The Options

Whilst there are a number of different specific treatments they all fall into one of two categories:

  1. Vein Closure

  2. Vein Removal

Let’s explain the difference:

Vein Closure: As the name suggests this procedure shuts off the varicose vein and hence renders it unusable. The result of this is that the blood flowing back to the heart will have no choice but to find an alternative route. This is does automatically and via the healthy network of alternative veins.

Vein Removal: As you will have guessed, this doesn’t just close off the vein, instead it removes the entire length of damaged vein. Not only does this force the blood back via an alternative way but it also removes any painful or unsightly length of vein.

Which form of treatment will you need? Well, that’s for your doctor to decide. It’s gong to depend on several factors relating to the symptoms and extent of the condition, your age and current state of health and what is deemed to work best.

Surgical Treatment Of Varicose Veins – Closure

There are a number of different procedure that can close of and seal a vein:

Surgical Treatment Of Varicose VeinsSclerotherapy

This procedure involves injection of special foam into your venous system. The foam causes scars on the veins and, as a result, this seals them up. The injection of the foam is guided by an ultra sound scan. Using this procedure, you can treat a number of veins in one session although it is normal to require several treatments weeks apart. After the treatment, you may have to wear compression stockings or bandages for some time as the veins disappear.


An identical treatment to sclerotherapy as detailed above. This variant uses tiny needles and is only used to treat smaller size varicose veins.

Endothermal Ablation

This is a surgical procedure recommended as the first option for those seeking advanced varicose veins treatment. Endothermal ablation involves the use of high frequency radio waves or laser beams to seal the affected veins. Where radio waves are used, the process is referred to as radiofrequency ablation and the use of lasers is known as endovenous laser treatment. Both treatments are usually carried out under the influence of local anesthetics.  The doctor may recommend compression stockings in the case of radiofrequency ablation.

Laser Sealing

In this treatment the affected vein is sealed by zapping it with a high intensity laser. Whilst the use of needles is eliminated it’s only usually effective on smaller varicose veins.

Endoscopic Vein Surgery

Not usually required unless your skin has become ulcerated. It involves a minute camera being threaded through the effected in order to establish the correct place to seal it off which is done using a surgical sealing device.

Surgical Treatment Of Varicose Veins – Removal

Varicose vein removal technique options are just two in number:

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

If the affected vein is just below the surface of the skin Ambulatory Phlebectomy is usually the preferred treatment option as its and easier, less invasive procedure. It will be carried out under local aesthetic. The surrounding area is numbed and small cuts are made to the vein which allow it to be pulled out and hence permanently removed.

Ligation and Stripping

This is a technique involving tying off the vein and then removing it. Incisions are made, one at the top of the varicose vein while the other further down the leg. The top of the vein is then tied and sealed. A thin flexible wire is then passed under the vein and pulled out through the lower cut. This procedure does not affect the blood flow because the veins located deep within your legs will handle the role of the damaged veins.

It must be pointed out that surgical procedures can be painful, are quite expensive and recovery times will vary.

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After The Treatment For Varicose Veins

Some surgical treatment of varicose veins will take you time to fully recover from. You can expect some degree of swelling, bruising, discoloration, pain and discomfort. Complications are however, quite rare.

Compression Stockings

It’s likely that you’ll be required t wear compression stockings for a period of time. These are among the common recommended solutions for varicose veins. Compression stockings squeeze your legs and help in enhancing circulation. By design, these stockings are tight at the ankle and get looser further up your leg. As a result, this encourages upward flow of blood to your heart. Compression stockings will also help relieve pain, swelling in your legs and discomfort caused by varicose veins.

In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends the use of compression stockings as a long term measure for varicose veins especially for expectant mothers. There are lots of sizes and pressures of compression stockings depending on the class of varicose veins they are made for. Class 1 is light compression while class 2 is medium compression stockings. The flexibility of compression stockings also includes color, length and style.


You are also likely to be prescribed an exercise routine which will help the healing process. For those who lead sedentary lives, exercise is particularly important. This is because exercises help in building muscle capacity which in turn enhances the pumping of blood back into the heart. The exercises prescribed / recommended may range from brisk walking, jogging, and swimming to lifting of light weights.

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Surgical Treatment Of Varicose Veins


Useful Links

British Vein Institute

MedLine Plus


Society For Vascular Surgery