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What Should I Expect from Varicose Vein Surgery?

By Amy Hunter
Updated May 17, 2024
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Varicose vein surgery is done to eliminate varicose veins, which can cause swelling and heaviness in the legs, as well as a feeling of fatigue. Varicose veins do not cause serious health problems, but are considered a nuisance. For this reason, varicose vein surgery is not covered by most insurance companies.

There are two types of treatment that are typically used on varicose veins. Vein sclerotherapy and laser treatment are the two methods that are considered to be effective treatments for varicose veins. Both work in basically the same way. To understand how varicose vein surgery works, it is helpful to understand what varicose veins are.

Varicose veins form when the veins in your legs develop weakness. These veins have a series of valves that prevent the blood that is traveling up your legs, toward the heart, from flowing backward. The purpose of these valves is to help the veins fight gravity. Sometimes these valves malfunction, which allows the blood to pool in the veins of the legs.

When blood pools in the legs, the veins become twisted, the walls of the veins weaken and the veins swell. This leads to a feeling of fatigue, tiredness and pain in the legs. Treating the varicose veins eliminates these symptoms.

Both vein sclerotherapy and laser treatment have the same effect on the veins. Vein sclerotherapy involves small injections in the veins, while laser treatment uses light therapy. Both cause the veins to close off. Once the faulty vein is closed off, blood is rerouted to other, healthy veins in the legs. The vein that was closed will eventually atrophy and die.

This surgery is relatively painless. Whether your physician recommends sclerotherapy or laser treatment, the process is an in-office procedure. The process itself should not take longer than an hour. During the process, you may experience some mild discomfort, but many doctors prevent this with a local anesthesia. You will be awake for the varicose vein surgery, as general anesthesia is not necessary.

Immediately after the surgery, and for a week or so after, your physician may recommend that you wear supportive compression stockings. Wearing these stockings can improve the outcome of varicose vein surgery. This surgery is not intensive, and most people feel ready to resume normal activities nearly immediately. Physicians often recommend that patients add walking to their recovery regimen. This improves the circulation to the legs and can increase the effectiveness of varicose vein surgery.

While many people notice an improvement in their legs immediately, it can take several weeks for the full benefits of varicose vein surgery to become apparent. If your varicose veins are large or numerous, it may take multiple appointments to eliminate them all. Most doctors prefer to schedule the appointments four to six weeks apart to allow for improvements in the veins after the varicose vein surgery is completed.

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