An Introduction to Vein Stripping

Leg Vein Anatomy

The human body requires a complex network of veins to function properly. Veins are charged with the vital role of moving blood back and forth between the heart and the rest of the body. When blood circulation is functioning at its prime, severe medical conditions can follow in its wake. Veins work in combination with a collection of valves that keep the blood flowing in the correct direction back towards the heart despite gravity’s best efforts. When these valves malfunction, the blood naturally begins to pool in the extremities, causing strain and pressure on the veins. For many individuals suffering from this condition, otherwise referred to as venous insufficiency, the development of varicose veins is likely over time.

Varicose veins develop when the blood that’s pooling in lower extremity veins begins to physically alter the shape of the vein. Varicose veins often present as either bulging or twisted veins at the surface of the skin in hues of purple or blue. While many patients are dissatisfied with the physical appearance of varicose veins, this condition often comes with a set of symptoms that are just as unpleasant. Varicose veins may be associated with swelling, pain, skin that’s warm to the touch, skin ulcers or achiness and overall limb fatigue. More concerning is the prospect of blood clots forming within varicose veins that could lead to a pulmonary embolism, stroke or heart attack if they come dislodged. For all of these reasons and more, it’s important that patients presenting with varicose veins seek immediate medical treatment.

Vein Stripping

When it comes to treating varicose veins, vein stripping was once the exclusive option available to patients. Vein stripping is a surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia and often is associated with a lengthy recovery period. During vein stripping, the attending physician makes an incision over the problematic varicose vein or veins, and inserts a metal tube into the vein with a wire for added precision. The wire is attached to the vein itself which can then be pulled out of the body.

Vein stripping is effective at removing problematic veins, but cannot guarantee that a varicose vein won’t return. Additional complications with vein stripping such as potential damage to surrounding lymphatic tissue as well as swelling or nerve damage prompted professionals in the field to search for new, innovative and more minimally invasive routes to treating varicose veins. By 1999, vein stripping was no longer the only option available to patients. While it remains a viable treatment option today for those with severe cases of varicose veins or venous insufficiency in general, it is typically not the preferred method of treatment.

Alternative Treatment Options

Patients suffering from varicose veins today have a multitude of options that are not only less invasive than vein stripping, but come with the added benefit of an outpatient experience and a shortened recovery time. Both laser ablation and sclerotherapy are highly-regarded, safe and successful routes to treating varicose veins in the modern era. Laser treatments focus on using laser energy to collapse and seal the problematic vein, allowing the body to simply absorb the vein once it’s no longer in use. Sclerotherapy utilizes ultrasound guidance to inject sclerosant solution directly into the problematic vein causing it to collapse, seal and eventually be reabsorbed as well.

Cost Considerations

Treating varicose veins with options such as laser ablation or sclerotherapy generally proves to be significantly more budget-friendly as compared to vein stripping. However, it’s important to note that the final price associated with the cost of care will vary from patient to patient and depends on the number of treatment sessions required as well as the severity of the treatment area. The team at the St. Louis Laser Vein Center is happy to help our patients select from in-clinic options for financing that make the cost of care manageable and comfortable.

Schedule an Appointment Today

When it comes to vein care, a comprehensive approach is key to a long-term high-quality of life. At the St. Louis Laser Vein Center, we pride ourselves on providing customized care to each patient that walks through the door. When you’re considering the many benefits of vein treatment and care, be sure to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Wright. Contact us today for more information on our many services available and how we can assist you on your journey to health and change.