Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the anatomical and haemodynamic effects of superficial venous surgery and compression on legs with chronic venous ulceration. Methods: Legs with open or recently healed ulceration and saphenous reflux were treated with multilayer compression bandaging or superficial venous surgery plus compression as part of a clinical trial. Venous duplex imaging was performed before treatment and at 1 year. Legs were stratified before surgery as having no deep reflux, segmental deep reflux or total deep reflux. Venous refill times (VRTs) were calculated before treatment and at 1 year using photoplethysmography, with and without a narrow below-knee cuff inflated to 80 mmHg. Results: Of 214 legs investigated, 112 were treated with compression and 102 with compression plus surgery. Saphenous surgery abolished deep reflux in ten of 22 legs with segmental deep reflux and three of 17 with total deep reflux. Overall median (range) VRT increased from 10 (3-48) to 15 (4-48) s 1 year after surgery (P < 0.001). Preoperative change in VRT on application of a below-knee tourniquet correlated with actual change in VRT following surgery. Conclusion: Superficial venous surgery resulted in a significant haemodynamic benefit for legs with venous ulceration despite co-existent deep reflux; residual saphenous reflux was common.