Peripheral Arterial Bypass Surgery

Bypass surgery is one option for restoring blood flow to the legs, or in some cases arms, of patients with severe peripheral artery disease (PAD). If you are experiencing pain and disability that limits your walking or are at risk for loss of limb due to extensive hardening of the arteries, your vascular physician may recommend this surgery.

What to expect during treatment

Peripheral bypass surgery is a major procedure performed under anesthesia in the hospital. Your surgeon makes an incision near the blocked artery and then attaches a new blood vessel (a graft from another part of the body or a synthetic tube) above and below the blockage. This provides a channel for the blood to bypass the blockage. Once good blood flow has been returned to the leg and foot, the surgeon will close the incision with sutures or staples.

Peripheral arterial bypass surgery is a well-established and highly effective procedure. It improves blood flow in most people, reduces pain, improves functional ability and quality of life, and may prevent amputation. While this surgery generally has no complications, there may be a risk of injury to the blood vessel, mild leg swelling or wound complications.

The procedure generally takes three to five hours, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. The surgery may require a minimum hospital stay of four to seven days.


  • Immediately after surgery, you will be monitored to ensure that blood is flowing to your legs and that your vital signs are good.
  • After a few days when you can walk on your own, you will be released from the hospital.
  • As with any surgical procedure, you will feel somewhat tired for a few weeks.
  • You will have mild pain along the incision and may experience mild leg swelling.