Treating Varicocele

Front view of male genitals with varicocele.In most cases, a varicocele is not serious. Your doctor may wait and watch the problem for a while. If needed, surgery or another procedure is done to close off the enlarged veins. This may be suggested if you have pain, if the veins become unsightly, or if you and your partner are having trouble conceiving a baby.

Open varicocelectomy surgery

Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to tie off the enlarged veins around the testicles:

  • You are given anesthesia to keep you comfortable. You may or may not be asleep, depending on the medicine you are given. 

  • An incision is made in the groin or in the lower abdomen.

  • The veins are then cut and tied off.

  • The incision is closed with sutures, staples, or surgical tape.

Laparoscopic varicocelectomy surgery

Instead of open surgery, laparoscopic surgery may be recommended. This is surgery done through small incisions with an instrument called a laparoscope (a thin, telescope-like device):

  • You are given general anesthesia to make you sleep during the procedure.

  • A few small openings are made in the lower abdomen. The laparoscope is inserted through a single opening. Surgical instruments are inserted through the other small openings.

  • The laparoscope sends magnified pictures to a video monitor. Using these pictures, the surgeon identifies the veins that need treatment.

  • The veins are clamped to seal them off.

  • The instruments are removed. The incisions are closed with sutures, staples, or surgical tape.

Percutaneous embolization

In place of surgery, your healthcare provider might recommend sealing off the enlarged veins using percutaneous embolization. A radiologic procedure called a venogram is used to create a map of the veins. A tube is then placed in the large vein in the groin. Materials are injected through this tube into the enlarged veins to block them off.

After your paricocele procedure

  • You may feel some pain in your testicle for a few days.

  • Mild swelling around the testicle is normal after the procedure. Put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas or rice) wrapped in a thin towel on the area to help. Do this for no longer than 20 minutes at a time.

  • Plan to rest for 5 to 7 days.

When to call your healthcare provider

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have: 

  • Ongoing pain not relieved by pain medicine

  • Black-and-blue around the incision, bleeding from the incision, or swelling in the scrotum

  • A fever above 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Greenish or foul-smelling drainage from the incision


Risks of varicocele repair

Risks and possible complications of these procedures include:

  • Blood clot

  • Infection

  • Fluid accumulation around testicle (hydrocele)

  • Injury to the nerves in the groin or scrotum

  • Injury to scrotal tissue or structures

  • Injury to the artery that supplies blood to the testicle

  • Risks of general anesthesia, if used

  • Damage to abdominal structures (laparoscopic surgery)