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Vein Ligation and Stripping: Before Your Surgery

What is vein ligation and stripping?

Vein ligation and stripping is surgery to remove one or more varicose veins. These are twisted, swollen veins near the surface of the skin. They are most common in the legs and ankles.

You will probably be asleep during the surgery, but it also can be done while you are awake. If you are awake, you will get medicine to numb your leg and prevent pain.

The doctor will make a small cut at the top of the varicose vein near the groin and another small cut lower in the leg. These cuts are called incisions. The doctor will tie off the vein to stop blood flow through it. This is called ligation. Then the doctor will gently pull out the tied-off section of the vein through the incisions. This is called vein stripping. If needed, the doctor also may make other small incisions along the leg to take out smaller varicose veins. The doctor will close the incisions in your leg with stitches or strips of tape.

You will probably go home the same day as the surgery. You will need to take it easy at home for 3 to 7 days after the surgery. The amount of time it takes for you to recover depends on how many veins are removed.

After surgery, problems caused by the varicose veins should go away. Other veins in the legs will take over the work of the veins that are removed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • For several days before surgery, do not shave the skin on the leg that will be operated on. The skin could get irritated, which could lead to infection.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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