Taking Care of Yourself After Your Vein Procedure
Following a vein-related surgery or procedure, it’s important to treat your body right. Read our guide to learn the basics of post-procedural care.
Today’s minimally invasive surgical techniques effectively alleviate pain from varicose veins, but if you’ve recently undergone a procedure, you probably have a number of questions about your recovery: How long will it take? What activities are safe?
Of course, it’s always best to consult a vein specialist, as advice can vary on a case-by-case basis; however, we’ve compiled a brief guide that provides answers to some of the most common questions we hear from patients immediately following their procedures.
How Long Will It Take to Recover?
Recovery time depends on the operation. Two of the most popular surgeries for varicose veins — endovenous laser treatment and ambulatory phlebectomy — are relatively brief outpatient procedures, each lasting between 45 and 60 minutes. In those cases, patients are sent home the same day. More serious procedures may require a hospital stay, in which case you should ask a family member or friend to drive you home and remain with you for at least 24 hours after the surgery.
For most patients, a full recovery takes about one to two weeks. That said, if you received treatment for both of your legs, you can expect a longer recuperation period.
Once you’ve returned home after an outpatient procedure, your doctor will likely recommend that you rest for the remainder of the day as the anesthetic wears off. Your leg may experience a mild stinging or burning sensation, but the pain shouldn’t be severe. If it becomes bothersome, try taking a mild painkiller like ibuprofen or
If the pain becomes bothersome for you, try taking a mild painkiller like ibuprofen.
How Do I Care for the Treated Area?
After surgery, the dressings must remain on for 24 to 48 hours, and you should expect minimal bleeding. You can shower (as long as the water is not too hot), but do not take baths or swim in public pools until the surgical wound has completely healed.
After the procedure, wear your compression stockings for at least three days, taking them off only for showering and sleeping. Compression stockings promote proper blood flow, and the more you wear them, the better you will feel.
While recuperating, you should take care to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. If you notice that you’re bleeding through the bandages, elevate your leg and and apply pressure to the wound. If those treatments fail to stop the bleeding, or if the bleeding continues for two days, consult your physician immediately.
Can I Exercise?
Strenuous exercise and any heavy lifting are not recommended for at least two weeks following your procedure, but that doesn’t mean you should be inactive. A regular walking routine improves your overall circulation and helps to prevent clots. You needn’t go far — a few hundred yards three times a day should do the trick. As the stiffness gradually decreases, you can ramp up your strolls.
You may also want to know when you can drive your car. Since your reaction times may be slowed due to the anesthesia and any lingering discomfort in your leg, wait at least 48 hours before getting behind the wheel.
What About Follow-Up Care?
If you’ve undergone a laser or radiofrequency treatment, schedule a follow-up ultrasound with your vein specialist within 24 to 72 hours after the procedure to determine if the vein has successfully closed.
Phlebitis, a condition characterized by lumps and inflammation in the leg, sometimes occurs after surgery. It usually clears up within a month.
About one in 15 patients see a recurrence of varicose veins within 10 years following a surgery. To avoid the reappearance of varicose veins, you should be sure to maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and wear light support socks.
Though rare, Deep Vein Thrombosis may occur after treatment, and this dangerous condition can lead to life-threatening blood clots. If you experience excessive swelling or pain in the leg, again, contact your physician immediately. He or she will recommend further treatment if necessary.