Varicose Vein Surgery

This page will provide you with information about varicose vein surgery. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are twisted veins that become enlarged. They are found in the leg and usually run in families. Varicose veins can be made worse by pregnancy and spending a long time standing. In the legs, the veins have one-way valves that stop the blood that is travelling up through the legs from moving back down. This helps the blood get pumped back to the heart effectively. If the valves in the leg veins fail, then the blood can begin to travel in the wrong direction. This is what causes varicose veins (see figure 1).

Figure 1
The cause of varicose veins. When the veins enlarge, the valves fail and blood flows backward.
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The benefits of surgery

Surgery will remove varicose veins and improve the symptoms caused by the condition. Surgery can also help to stop the symptoms returning.

The alternatives to surgery

  • Foam sclerotherapy (a chemical injection)
  • Support stockings

Are there any potential complications with this surgery?

Most surgical procedures carry some level of risk or possible complication. These will be discussed with you by your consultant or pre-assessment nurse prior to your procedure.

Recovery from surgery

Patients return home the same day and return to work within a few days. Normal activities can be resumed once the wounds have healed. Regular exercise can help with the recovery process but advice should always be sought from your consultant before starting any routine. Varicose veins can return – either in the same place or somewhere else – even after surgery.


Varicose veins are a very common condition that many people suffer from. Leaving them untreated, however, can result in complications. Non-invasive treatments like support stockings are available but will not remove the affected veins.

Alternative surgery information

Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) can be done under local anaesthetic, sedation or full general anaesthesia; your surgeon will discuss which he feels is best for you. Your surgeon will make a small cut just above your knee; they will then pass a laser fibre into the vein and position it in the correct place with the guidance of an ultrasound probe. Local anaesthetic will be injected around the vein before the laser is used.  Once the laser is turned on it will slowly be withdrawn down the leg.  As the fibre is withdrawn the laser energy burns the inside of the vein sealing it from the inside. A compression bandage is then applied to the leg; this is replaced by a compression stocking, either on the day you go home or a week later depending on the surgeon’s preference. You will need to wear this stocking for at least 4 weeks.  You will be able to remove the stocking daily to check your skin, and to wash the leg.  The procedure takes roughly 45minutes to an hour. If your procedure is performed with local anaesthetic +/- sedation you will be asked to wear a pair of laser safety glasses to protect your eyes.  If having a general anaesthetic your eyes will already be protected. The Chelmsford always follows the National Safety Guidelines when using the laser within Theatre.

Endovenous ablation (EVLA) is a way of treating varicose veins with the use of lasers. Lasers can be used for various medical treatments – including destroying cancer cells and reshaping the cornea – but for varicose vein treatment they heat the blood inside a saphenous vein to very high temperatures (a few hundred degrees Celsius); once this has happened, a steam bubble will form which closes the vein by destroying it. This is a very effective procedure but it can cause more pain, swelling and bruising than other forms of varicose vein treatments (such as VNUS closure). If opting for this treatment it is advised that you familiarise yourself with details about aftercare and any complications that can arise from varicose vein surgery.


References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this page is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information provided here should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.


Varicose Vein Surgery Consultants