Varicocelectomy is surgery to repair a
varicocele. A varicocele is swelling of veins in the scrotum. This swelling is due to blood
backing up in the veins. A varicocele can cause pain or a heavy feeling in the scrotum but
is usually painless. It can also cause problems with fertility. During the surgery, the
swollen veins are cut and the ends are closed off. Other veins in the groin area then take
over carrying the blood supply. The surgery may be done with a method called laparoscopy or
through open surgery. During laparoscopy, a thin, lighted tube or scope (called a
laparoscope) is used. The scope allows the doctor to work through a few small
Preparing for surgery
Prepare for the surgery as you’ve
been told. In addition:
provider about all medicines you take. This includes
prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and other
supplements. It also includes any blood thinners, such as warfarin, clopidogrel,
or daily aspirin. You may need to stop taking some or all of them before
Follow any directions you are
given for not eating or drinking before surgery. This includes coffee, water, gum,
and mints. (If you have been instructed to take medicines, take them with a small
sip of water.)
The day of surgery
This surgery takes 2 to 3 hours.
You’ll likely go home the same day.
Before the surgery begins:
An IV (intravenous) line
is put into a vein in your arm or hand. This supplies fluids and medicine (such
You may be given a
medicine to prevent blood clots.
To keep you pain-free
during the surgery, you’re given general anesthesia. This medicine puts you
into a deep sleeplike state trough the surgery. A tube may be inserted into
your throat to help you breathe.
A thin tube (catheter) is
placed in your bladder to drain urine.
During the surgery:
The doctor makes a few
small incisions in the belly (abdomen).
The scope is placed
through one of the incisions. It sends live pictures of the inside of the
abdomen to a video screen.
The abdomen is filled with
gas. This makes space for the doctor to see and work.
Using tools placed through
the other incisions, the swollen veins are cut. The ends may be sealed with
tiny clips. Or the ends may be cauterized.
When the surgery is
complete, all tools are removed. The incisions are closed with stitches or
The doctor will begin with
laparoscopy. But he or she may need to change to open surgery for safety reasons.
Open surgery is done using an incision in the abdomen or the groin. You’ll be told
more about this possibility before surgery.
After the surgery
You’ll be taken to a recovery room
to rest until the anesthesia wears off. You may feel sleepy and nauseated. If a
used, your throat might be sore at first. You’ll be given medicines to manage any pain.
The catheter will be removed from your bladder. When you’re ready to go home, you’ll be
released to an adult family member or friend.
Recovering at home
Have someone help you at home as
your healing begins. Follow all the instructions you’ve been given. Make sure to:
Take all medicines as
Care for your incisions as
Apply ice or a cold compress
to the scrotum for 10 minutes at a time for the first 48 hours.
This helps reduce swelling.
provider’s guidelines for showering. Don't swim, take a bath,
use a hot tub, or do other activities that cause the incision to be covered with
water until your
provider says it’s OK.
Not have sex for 1 to 2
Not do any heavy lifting and
other strenuous activities, as directed.
Not drive until your
provider says it’s OK. Don’t drive if you’re taking medicines
that make you drowsy or sleepy.
Not strain to pass stool. If
needed, take stool softeners as directed by your
When to call your healthcare provider Call
Call your healthcare provider right
away if you have any of the following:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as
directed by your healthcare provider
Symptoms of infection at an
incision site, such as increased redness or swelling, warmth, worsening pain, or
Pain that cannot be
controlled with medicines
Swelling in the scrotum that
doesn’t go away
Trouble passing urine
Nausea or vomiting that won’t
Pain or swelling in the
Call 911 if you have chest pain or
You’ll have follow-up visits so
provider can check how well you’re healing. If your stitches or
staples need to be removed, this will likely be done in 7 days. If you’re concerned about
your fertility, a sample of your semen can be checked in about 3 to 4 months. This helps see if
the number and quality of your sperm have improved.
Risks and possible complications
Bleeding, blood clots
Return of the varicocele
Failure to restore
Fluid around a testicle
Shrinking (atrophy) of a
Damage to nearby nerves,
blood vessels, or organs (including the intestine)
decrease in sperm count
Risks of anesthesia. The
or nurse anesthetist will discuss these with you.