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Many years ago vein “stripping” was only one option for the treatment of varicose veins. This operation consisted of a cut in the groin and one at the ankle with the underlying vein being pulled out. There were then many other cuts made to remove the varicose veins that were connected to the underlying vein that had been removed. Unfortunately these varicose veins did not also come out when the main vein was removed. The downside of this procedure was that because it was an operation there were many risks including the risks of general anaesthetic and the risk of infection with hospital bugs that can be extremely difficult to get rid of. There was also the long recovery time (often 4 weeks for those involved in manual labour and usually at least 2 weeks for those with more sedentary jobs). As if that wasn’t enough, a large percentage of people then noticed over time that new varicose veins appeared where the old ones were removed from. With the advent of Ultrasound the source of these new varicose veins could be determined and was often found to be growing from the stump of the old veins that had been removed, particularly in the groin. This information was contrary to what patients had been told for a long time that recurrence was due to bad luck, bad genetics or the blood had to find somewhere to go. These explanations have been proved false and it is simply a case of vein “stripping” being the same as vein “pruning”. This effect is particularly marked in younger people because a “young tree” will sprout these new veins much quicker than an “old oak”.
At the Leg Vein Clinic, we have a range of treatment options other than surgery.
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