The traditional surgery for varicose of “stripping” has been around for a long time and for many doctors it has been the only vein procedure that they are familiar with. For many older style surgeons, it was what they were taught when going through Medicine and it is what they have always done for their patients. Whilst some patients have been happy with “stripping”, many more have found it to be a procedure associated with significant pain at the time of operation, sometimes anaesthetic problems or difficult to manage hospital infections and a recovery time that was longer than they anticipated.
These issues are however are not the most troubling aspect for many patients. What many patients are more concerned about is that they develop new varicose veins soon after their surgery. The origin of these veins was not clear until we started doing Duplex ultrasound examinations on these patients and often found that these new veins were growing from the stumps of the veins that had been previously removed. This process of “neovascularisation” is now widely accepted as the main cause of new varicose veins after surgery. It means that vein “stripping” should be renamed vein “pruning”. Despite this knowledge, unfortunately it is often hard to teach “old dogs new tricks” and some surgeons just persist doing what they have always done despite evidence of the problems associated with the procedure.
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