Pros & cons

The advantages and disadvantages of varicose vein stripping

Compared to the new endovenous techniques that are available for the treatment of truncal veins, and provided they are used correctly by experts trained in their use and using the correct settings, there are no advantages at all to vein stripping.

In certain academic meetings, one of the arguments put forward is that it is “a good training operation for junior surgeons”. This is not an acceptable reason to keep an outdated operation that does not work in the medium to long-term and causes excess morbidity to patients. As such there is no real advantage at all to stripping veins.

The disadvantages of vein stripping are multiple:

  • In the majority of cases, the veins grow back again in the long-term (23% at one year and 82% at five years in The Whiteley Clinic’s study), making the operation useless in the medium to long-term
  • Pain and bruising – which has traditionally meant patients needing 2 to 3 weeks off work after vein surgery
  • General anaesthetic – most surgeons stripping veins use general anaesthetic which increases costs as the anaesthetist need to be paid and equipment for general anaesthetic and recovery need to be provided. In addition, the starving before the general anaesthetic and the lying still during the procedure can lead to other complications.
  • Increased complications – such as deep-vein thrombosis due to dehydration during the starving phase and lying still without moving under general anaesthesia; and nerve damage due to the patient being unable to tell the surgeon that a nerve is being damaged when under general anaesthetic
This website was last updated on 03/10/17.