Surgeons have been stripping varicose veins as standard treatment for the last 30 years or more. Research has shown that this treatment approach does not work and therefore the technique should never be performed. It has been proven that it causes the same veins to grow back in the medium to long term.
Stripping veins involves tying off the vein in the affected leg and then removing it. Incisions are made; the first cut is made near the groin at the top of the varicose vein. The second cut is made further down the leg, usually around the knee or ankle. The top of the vein (near the groin) is tied up and sealed. The vein stripping procedure is painful and causes bruising and bleeding with weeks off for recovery.
To put it simply, stripping varicose veins leads to them growing back again. This has been shown by research, published in peer-viewed journals and The Whiteley Clinic.
As far back as 2007, research published in the British Journal of Surgery showed that even after just one year post stripping varicose veins; the same veins were growing back in 23% of patients.
More recently, research in Phlebology from 2014 showed that 5 – 8 years after stripping varicose veins, 82% of the same veins were growing back. Of these, 12% had totally re-grown. In these patients, the surgery had been a complete waste of time, not to mention incredibly painful.
For many years Professor Mark Whiteley has been calling for the end of stripping varicose veins.
As stated in the NICE Guidelines, varicose veins should be treated by endovenous surgery.
In 1999 Mark Whiteley introduced new endovenous surgery techniques into the UK. This endovenous surgery uses heat to shrivel up and destroy the vein in a minimally invasive walk-in walk-out procedure. The two commonest ways to do this are EVLA or radiofrequency.
As the UK’s leading specialist varicose vein centre, we see a large number of patients who have previously had vein stripping surgery elsewhere. When their varicose veins recur, as they almost inevitably do, we often find that the veins have grown back due to the stripping. As we use superior investigation techniques we often reveal a more complex pattern or patterns of venous dysfunction – such as pelvic vein reflux feeding into the legs, or perforator vein incompetence – have been missed by surgeons adopting the more ‘traditional’ narrow approach to the condition.
As noted in our varicose veins treatment section, we combine EVLA as our lead technique with a range of complementary procedures to tailor a treatment plan for every individual patient to achieve the very best outcome.
If your surgeon recommends varicose vein stripping as a treatment for your varicose veins, seek a second opinion!