Possible surgical complications

NB:  We recommend discussing possible anaesthetic complications with your anaesthetist when he/she sees you on the day of your operation.

We encourage you to discuss any concerns about the following with Dr Bray during your consultation.

Bruising – Invariably, there will be some bruising along the course of the vein that was stripped. This can vary in amount but clears within 1-3 months.

Bleeding – There will be some blood loss in every procedure but this is usually trivial. Occasionally when very large and extensive varicose veins are treated blood loss can be significant. This usually means that only one leg can be treated at a time. It is exceptionally rare to require a blood transfusion.

Infection – This is very rare and usually minor as antibiotics are given at the time of surgery. It usually responds to a short course of antibiotics.

Groin Haematoma – This is a clot underneath the groin wound that will normally dissolve over time. If large (ie. size of your clenched fist) and painful, it may necessitate re-operation to remove. It is not dangerous and IT cannot travel to the lungs.

Residual Varicose Veins – Not all varicose veins can be cleared with surgery alone. Remaining varicose veins may need injections to achieve a good cosmetic result. This is normally very successful as the main “feeding” vein will have been removed at surgery. Rarely, re-operation may be necessary if despite all this the varicose vein stays open.

Leg swelling – It is common to develop a little leg swelling for a few weeks following varicose vein surgery. This is due to disturbance of the fluid draining channels (lymphatics) of the leg when operating in the groin or behind the knee. This will settle with elevation of the leg, walking and wearing your stockings. Usually, swelling is improved by treatment.

Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) – This is a clot in the deep veins of the leg. It is very rare but if present will require “blood thinning” medication to treat. It usually indicates that there is a predisposition to clotting and this will need to be investigated. DVT can be avoided by wearing stockings, foot exercises and walking post-operatively.

Nerve Injury – In the process of removing varicose veins, small nerves that supply the nearby skin can be injured. This can cause numbness or “tingling” in the skin on the inside of the lower leg. This patch of numbness or “tingling” usually shrinks with time and is often un-noticeable 6 months later. It is exceptionally rare that deeper nerves can be injured causing “foot-drop.”

Scarring – Most patients heal very well as only small incisions in the groin or knee crease are made. The stab incisions for removal of varicosities usually heal completely with little or no scarring by 3 months. If you have had severe scarring (keloid) with past incisions the same may happen following varicose vein surgery.

Recurrence – Recurrence can occur. This is not due to a failure of the surgery but rather re-growth of new varicose veins. These can usually be treated with injections but may occasionally require further surgery (see later section on recurrence).

Return to Varicose Veins – Surgery information.