Should Your Pee Smell Like Metal After Varicose Vein Surgery?

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Rahul Sood

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Varicose vein surgery is one of the treatment options for resolving concerns about varicose veins as well as removing blood clots in the deep veins. This procedure involves creating incisions on the legs to reach the affected veins and then ligating and removing them. But like many minor surgeries, this treatment may also come with some side effects or risks of complications, causing patients to ask if urine that smells like metal is one of them.

So would your pee smell like metal after varicose vein surgery? No, it won’t — having urine that smells like metal isn’t one of the side effects or complications of varicose vein ligation and stripping. There might be other causes of having this symptom after your surgery, like dehydration, effects of other medications, urinary tract infection, or urinary retention, among other possible underlying medical conditions.

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Is It Normal for Pee to Have a Metallic Smell Post Varicose Vein Surgery?

Varicose vein ligation and stripping may cause side effects as the body’s normal reaction to the tissue damage from the procedure. This treatment is also more invasive than other solutions for varicose veins. Because of this, the risks of developing complications tend to be more heightened, but these events are still generally rare.

But having urine that smells like metal isn’t a normal side effect of this procedure, nor is it one of its reported complications. If you experience this symptom, you should consult your doctor immediately to receive appropriate treatment or prevent more serious adverse reactions. It might be an indirect effect of your procedure or a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Possible Reasons Why Your Pee Smells Like Metal After Varicose Vein Surgery

Excreting urine that smells like metal after your varicose vein ligation and stripping procedure isn’t a usual side effect of this treatment. It might be caused by other reasons you should confirm with your doctor, like:

1) Dehydration

You may notice your urine smelling like metal after your varicose vein ligation and stripping, probably because of dehydration. Your body might have lost more fluid than needed, causing your urine to smell like metal or ammonia. When you’re dehydrated, your urine gets more concentrated with toxins, as there’s less water to dilute it. This is also the reason why it has a strong smell. Other symptoms of dehydration are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Experiencing dehydration is common after undergoing some surgical procedures. This is caused by surgical stress, weakened immune system, and intake of general anesthesia. But it’s important to note that while dehydration after minor surgeries like varicose vein ligation and stripping is rare, it may still be possible. That’s why it’s important to follow the advice of your doctors and lead a healthy lifestyle to speed up your healing process.

2) Intake of Several Medications

Another reason why your pee might smell like metal after your varicose vein surgery is due to the vitamins and medications you’re taking – some drugs and dietary supplements may cause this symptom due to your body’s reaction to their specific formulations.

Vitamins may be dissolved in water or fat before being absorbed by the body, like vitamin B supplements. The body then excretes these supplements through the urine, giving it a metallic or sulfur-like smell.

Some medications prescribed by your doctor after your procedure might also cause your pee to smell, like antibiotics. This is because some of these drugs are sourced from mold, giving your urine a pungent smell.

Having urine smelling like metal due to dietary supplements or medications isn’t really harmless. You should simply consume more water or fluids to dilute the strong smell of your pee. You should also wait until you’re done with your prescription.

3) Urinary Tract Infection

Urine that smells like metal or ammonia is one of the symptoms of a urinary tract infection or UTI. Your pee has this funky smell due to bacterial contamination. These bacteria might have also reached your bladder, resulting in other symptoms, such like: 

  • Burning sensation when peeing
  • Frequent urination but only passing small amounts
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain (in women)

UTI is caused by bacteria that may have gotten to your bladder through your urethra due to:

  • Reactivated UTI
  • Changes in vaginal flora
  • Reduced urinary flow in the bladder, leading to infection among pregnant women
  • Poor hygiene
  • Structural problems leading to infection
  • Urinary incontinence or retention

The metallic smell of your urine may be caused by UTI and not specifically by your varicose vein surgery. It’s also possible that it only coincided after your surgery, or your risk of developing this condition has heightened, among other factors. If you suspect having this condition, you should consult your doctor to receive proper prescriptions for antibiotics. Keeping yourself hydrated and drinking cranberry juice may also help speed your recovery.

4) Urinary Retention Caused by Blood Clots 

Urinary retention may also cause UTI, which makes your urine smell like metal. And if you’re suspected of urinary retention after your varicose vein surgery, your healthcare provider might examine you further for possible blood clots

If you had varicose vein surgery with a history of blood clots like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), you may have risks of recurring this condition by up to 30% within 10 years. These risks can increase if you have an underlying medical condition, like thrombophilia or cancer.

A case report has mentioned diagnosing a patient with DVT and PE due to experiencing urinary retention, among other symptoms. But it’s important to note that these cases are rare, and the symptom of passing urine that smells like metal doesn’t immediately indicate urinary retention, DVT, or PE. Arriving at this diagnosis would require a thorough examination and tests from your healthcare provider.

5) Underlying Medical Condition

Passing urine that smells like metal after your varicose vein surgery isn’t one of the expected side effects of the procedure. There are also no reports of patients experiencing this symptom of complications after their operation. It may only be a harmless case of your diet causing changes in your bodily chemicals, but it might also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, like:

  • Cystitis
  • Liver problems
  • Prostatitis
  • Fistula
  • Hypermethioninemia
  • Pseudomonas infection
  • Kidney stones

These are some health conditions linked to having metal-smelling urine, but this symptom isn’t enough to diagnose a possible ailment or disease. That’s why patients must still consult their healthcare provider to receive a thorough examination and assessment of their overall health.

Side Effects to Expect After Varicose Vein Surgery 

Patients can expect side effects after their varicose vein surgery as the body reacts to the operation, but having urine that smells like metal isn’t one of these. Experiencing symptoms after a procedure is highly common, even in oral medications, so you shouldn’t worry about these too much. These signs should resolve within 2 to 4 weeks. These adverse reactions are:

  • Pain from the incisions
  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Bruising

Your healthcare provider will advise you on some ways to reduce these discomforts. You might want to ensure following aftercare steps thoroughly to avoid developing infections and other complications. Call your doctor if you experience some of these adverse reactions:

  • Bleeding at the incision sites
  • Fever
  • Worsening pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth of the skin when touching

Complications After Varicose Vein Ligation and Stripping

Varicose vein ligation and stripping is a generally low-risk minor surgery. But like all treatment options, there are still slim chances of developing complications, although most cases reported are only mild reactions. These complications are:

  • Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
  • Blood clot 
  • Infection of the surgical wounds
  • Nerve irritation causing pain or numbness
  • Scarring at the incision sites

These complications usually happen when the incision wounds aren’t properly taken care of. Having a lack of screening and assessment may also contribute to the development of these symptoms as healthcare providers tend to overlook other necessary information about the patient’s health.

What You Should Do When Your Pee Smells Like Metal 

Varicose vein ligation and stripping may come with side effects and rare complications. Passing urine that smells like metal isn’t usually one of its adverse reactions, although there’s still a possibility that this symptom may still be related to your operation. If you notice that your pee has this smell, you should:

1) Consult Your Doctor Immediately

Passing urine that smells like metal may only be an effect of your diet, lifestyle, or medications. However, it’s also possible an indirect effect of your varicose vein surgery or an underlying medical condition. Whether it’s something harmless or not, you should consult your doctor immediately. You’re likely to have follow-up visits with your doctor after your varicose vein procedure – you may ask your healthcare provider about this symptom.

2) Undergo the Prescribed Tests to Diagnose Your Condition

Your doctor will do a physical examination and interview to assess your condition related to your symptom. This allows them to determine if your symptom is only a harmless effect of your diet or medication or a sign of an infection or disease. Your healthcare provider may also request tests, like urinalysis or postvoid residual measurement, for them to know the condition of your bladder.

3) Follow the Advised Treatment Plan

Follow the advice of your healthcare provider, whether they’ve deemed this symptom a harmless effect of your bodily changes, infection, or a medical condition. If it’s due to lifestyle and medications, they may advise you to increase the water you drink. For infections like UTI, you can expect to receive a round of antibiotics. Other health conditions related to this symptom may require more specific treatment plans and medications.

Recommended Minimally Invasive Treatments for Varicose Veins

Varicose vein ligation and stripping may be a minor surgery with low risks, but this solution is more invasive than other varicose vein treatments. You may consult your healthcare provider about other minimally invasive procedures, like:

1) Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is one of the most popular treatment options for removing varicose veins. This minimally invasive procedure involves injecting the affected vein with a solution called a sclerosant to cause scarring in the vein lining. This would result in the veins closing up, resolving, and eventually getting absorbed by local tissues.

2) Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation

Endovenous radiofrequency ablation, or RFA treatment, also involves closing up the affected vein. But with this procedure, your healthcare provider will use the heat from the radiofrequency energy to cause a reaction on the vein wall lining. They will insert a catheter into the affected vein, where they will then insert the device that delivers heat to the veins. Once the vein is damaged and closed off, the blood flow will take to another healthier vein.

3) Endovenous Laser Ablation

Endovenous laser ablation is similar to RFA treatment, except it uses laser energy for delivering heat. It also follows the same procedure, where the device will be inserted into the affected vein to target the vein wall lining via a catheter. The affected vein will also be damaged and closed off, rerouting the blood to healthier veins.

4) VenaSeal

VenaSeal is a minimally invasive procedure where the varicose veins will be injected with medical glue. This solution will then close off the vein and allow the blood to flow to other healthier veins, resolving the enlarged veins on your legs.

5) Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive treatment for removing varicose veins. It may be a bit different from the other procedure discussed, as this solution involves creating small incisions near the affected vein. With a phlebectomy hook, your surgeon will remove the vein piece by piece.

Treat Varicose Veins with Less Invasive Procedures at Vein Center Doctor

Passing urine that smells like metal isn’t an expected side effect or a symptom of a possible complication of varicose vein surgery. This symptom after your procedure might be an effect of your medications, dehydration, UTI, or other underlying medical condition. Consult a reliable healthcare provider about this to receive proper guidance and treatment if needed. When resolving your varicose veins, you may want to opt for low-risk minimally invasive solutions.

Vein Center Doctor is one of the most reliable varicose vein clinics in New Jersey and New York. They offer a wealth of advanced solutions for resolving varicose veins, where you’ll be under the care of highly-trained professionals. They’re equipped with world-class tools and techniques to deliver the safest and most effective solutions possible. Get started in treating your varicose veins with minimally invasive solutions. Book an appointment with us today.

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Rahul Sood

DO, R.PH

About Rahul Sood

Dr. Rahul Sood is a triple board-certified physician who specializes in cosmetic vein treatment, namely spider veins and varicose veins, as well as any accompanying issues related to venous insufficiency such as leg pain. He has carried out over 10,000 leg procedures during 10-plus year career and is highly regarded throughout Westchester County and New Jersey.

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