Surgical procedures and orthopaedic operations
Surgically removing varicose veins is still the standard therapy and therefore one of the most frequent procedures for vein disorders around the world. Removing a diseased vein primarily serves to prevent the disease from becoming worse.
What happens during vein stripping?
The surgical procedure – also known as "(vein) stripping" – is mainly used for truncal varicose veins. This is a disease of the main or truncal veins in the superficial venous system. In addition, it is also possible to surgically remove smaller side vessels in which the blood accumulates, thus preventing secondary diseases. Prior to the operation, the function of the entire venous system, as well as the development of varicose veins, are carefully examined. Finally, only the damaged vein section is removed during the operation and the healthy veins are preserved.
Varicose veins can be removed under local or general anaesthesia. Vein stripping involves inserting a special flexible probe (vein stripper) into the vein and severing the vein at its end. The end of the vein is tied to the probe and pulled out as a whole. There are also other surgical procedures for treating varicose veins. One of these is the so-called CHIVA method, which aims to prevent recirculation cycles by selectively blocking blood vessels. These are basically "dead cycles" in which the blood takes a wrong path, causing the vein to overflow and preventing the blood from being removed properly. The procedure corrects the blood flow and thus relieves the vein or varicose vein.
After the varicose vein operation
The treatment is supplemented by subsequent compression therapy. The aim is to reduce bruising and prevent scarring or swelling due to water retention (edema). In most cases, compression bandages are used immediately after the operation and must be applied by a doctor or trained therapist. After a short time, the patient can switch to compression stockings. These have the same effect, but are much more comfortable and the patient can put them on and take them off on their own.
Removing varicose veins: risks and possible complications
Surgery for varicose veins should not be performed under the following circumstances (contraindications):
- Arterial circulatory problems
- Primary or secondary lymphoedema
Any operation has associated risks. Even if the operation is performed correctly, complications such as bleeding or injuries to nerves, lymph vessels or other large vessels (e.g. arteries) can occur. In addition, the amount of anaesthesia required should not be underestimated. Complications can also occur after the operation: these range from bruises, wound healing disorders and spider veins to infections, thrombosis or lymphoedema. For this reason, varicose vein surgery should not be taken lightly: Let your doctor advise you in detail about which treatment method is best for you!
Unlike more conservative treatments, which work from the outside or are achieved through exercise and cooperation of the patient, operations penetrate our bodies to find the exact cause of the discomfort and try to remedy it. However, please note: Operations naturally involve risks such as infections, the chance your body will reject an artificial joint, or injuries to surrounding tissue or blood vessels!
Although there are different surgical procedures for each condition, they can be grouped together in generic terms. Osteotomy, osteoplasty and osteosynthesis deal with bones, whereas operations on joints or the spine are of a completely different nature.
Operations on bones
Bones form the stable framework of our bodies and can be damaged by disease or injury, as can the joints that connect them. In some cases, our bodies are unable to repair these damages on their own, even if they receive support from the outside. When this happens, orthopaedists resort to surgery.
Since operations on bones are performed due to a variety of diagnoses, they involve a wide range of procedures. These include osteosynthesis, where screws, wires or other metal parts are attached to the inside of the bone to fix it in place. This procedure is used, for example, in case of complicated fractures in order to allow them to heal together in a straight line.
Operations on joints using the keyhole technique
Operations on joints often involve so-called arthroscopy. In contrast to open surgery, which requires a large incision for wide access, this procedure only requires two small incisions: One incision to insert a rod with a camera and one to insert specially made tiny scissors, scalpels and other surgical instruments into the body. The operating surgeon can see the joint, ligaments and muscles on the inside on a screen and thus they can effectively use their tools. Because the operation is performed through only two small entrances, it is also known as the keyhole technique. Depending on the condition, the doctor will decide whether to operate using the keyhole technique or conventional open access. The reason for this is that every clinical picture and every individual body has its own characteristics that have to be taken into account in the selection process.