PURPOSE: Long saphenous vein (LSV) stripping in the treatment of varicose veins may reduce the recurrence of varices but may also increase morbidity rates. The effect of stripping on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of LSV surgery, with and without successful stripping, on HRQoL. METHODS: This prospective study comprises 102 consecutive patients who underwent varicose vein surgery that included attempted stripping of the LSV to the knee. HRQoL was assessed before surgery and at 4 weeks, 6 months, and 2 years after surgery with the Aberdeen varicose vein severity score (AVSS; disease-specific) and the Short-Form 36 (SF-36; generic). Patients defined as stripped were those in whom complete thigh stripping to the knee was confirmed with postoperative duplex scanning at 2 years. Patients defined as incompletely stripped were those in whom any LSV remnant was found in the thigh after surgery. Deep venous reflux (DVR) was defined as reflux of 0.5 seconds or more in at least the popliteal vein. RESULTS: Sixty-six of 102 patients (65%) provided complete HRQoL data at all four time points. At baseline, there was no significant difference between patients who were stripped (n = 25) and incompletely stripped (n = 41) in terms of AVSS, SF-36, age, gender, DVR, or CEAP grade. Significantly more patients in the incompletely stripped group underwent surgery for recurrent disease (29/41, 71%, versus 8/25, 32%; P =.002, with chi(2) test). Both groups gained significant improvements in AVSS scores for as much as 2 years. After adjustment for recurrent disease, stripping conferred additional benefit in terms of AVSS at 6 months (median [interquartile range]) (9 [4 to 16] versus 15 [9 to 24]; P =.031) and 2 years (7 [2 to 10] versus 9 [5 to 15]; P =.014), which was statistically significant in patients without preoperative DVR but not significant in patients with preoperative DVR. SF-36 scores were not affected by stripping. CONCLUSION: LSV surgery leads to a significant improvement in disease-specific HRQoL for as much as 2 years. In patients without DVR, stripping to the knee confers additional benefit.