The present study was aimed at assessing the experience of a single referral center with recurrent varicose veins of the legs (RVL) over the period 1993-2008. Among a total of 846 procedures for Leg Varices (LV), 74 procedures were for RVL (8.7%).
The causes of recurrence were classified as classic: insufficient crossectomy (13); incompetent perforating veins (13); reticular phlebectasia (22); small saphenous vein insufficiency (9); accessory saphenous veins (4); and particular: post-hemodynamic treatment (5); incomplete stripping (1); Sapheno-Femoral Junction (SFJ) vascularization (5); post-thermal ablation (2).
For the “classic” RVL the treatment consisted essentially of completing the previous treatment, both if the problem was linked to an insufficient earlier treatment and if it was due to a later onset. The most common cause in our series was reticular phlebectasia; when the simple sclerosing injections are not sufficient, this was treated by phlebectomy according to Mueller. The “particular” cases classified as 1, 2 and 4 were also treated by completing the traditional stripping procedure (+ crossectomy if this had not been done previously), considered to be the gold standard. In the presence of a SFJ neo-vascularization, with or without cavernoma, approximately 5 cm of femoral vein were explored, the afferent vessels ligated and, if cavernoma was present, it was removed.
Although inguinal neo-angiogenesis is a possible mechanism, some doubt can be raised as to its importance as a primary factor in causing recurrent varicose veins, rather than their being due to a preexisting vein left in situ because it was ignored, regarded as insignificant, or poorly evident.
In conclusion, we stress that LV is a progressive disease, so the treatment is unlikely to be confined to a single procedure. It is important to plan adequate monitoring during follow-up, and to be ready to reoperate when new problems present that, if left, could lead the patient to doubt the validity and efficacy of the original treatment.