Vein ligation is a type of treatment for varicose veins; it is a surgical procedure. When a surgeon performs a ligation, he ties off damaged veins in the patient's leg. When several of the valves in the vein are damaged, a doctor can remove them in a procedure called stripping. However, if the ligation closes off a problematic valve in the vein, but there are still healthy valves below the damaged valve, the vein can be left in place. This allows blood to continue circulating through other veins that still have adequate valves.
If a person has varicose veins, her symptoms may include swollen legs that have twisted blue and purple veins in bunches or clusters. She may also have cramps, soreness behind the knee, itching, discolored skin, and even ulcers. A doctor may diagnose the condition during a physical examination or by using an ultrasound to check the blood flow in the veins.
There are millions of people with varicose veins, and most of these people are midlife or elderly. The exact cause of varicose veins is unknown, but some people are more at risk than others because of certain factors, such as gender, genetics, pregnancy, certain job requirements, and obesity. Women are most affected by varicose veins. However, elevations in the rate of obesity may contribute to a rise of the condition in males.
Vein ligation is usually done on an outpatient procedure basis. This means the patient does not stay in the hospital overnight; local or general anesthetic is typically used. If vein ligation is not an option, there are other methods for treating varicose veins. For example, a person may wear support stockings during activity, elevate her legs when possible, stand less, and take frequent breaks when she has to be on her feet. She may also exercise regularly to help her condition.
There are several reasons why a person might elect to have vein ligation. First, the surgery can relieve pain and leg cramps that are often associated with varicose veins. Another reason to have the procedure done is to prevent skin ulcers, bleeding, and other skin problems. However, others choose to have vein ligation surgery done for cosmetic reasons, as their main goal is to improve the appearance of their legs. Since vein ligation is considered an elective surgery, it is not recommended for cosmetic reasons only, unless the patient has no other health problems that could complicate the surgery.