What You Need To Know About Surgery for Varicose Veins

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April 25, 2018

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My last blog post was about saving money on dishwasher repairs (with a sweet time-saving dishwasher technique!) and now I’m going to share my experience with varicose veins…old lady alert!

I like to keep this blog on the lighter side. I enjoy sharing random tips and experiences in hopes it will make your life easier or at least entertain you a for a few minutes. When it comes to deep thoughts about parenting or sharing too much personal information, I am a little hesitant. It doesn’t seem fair to my kids (parenting) and I just don’t know you guys (personal information).

But, I decided to share my experience with varicose veins in case you are in a similar predicament, and in case learning about someone else’s experience is helpful. (I did share about my blood clot during pregnancy, which took some consideration on my part.)

Keep reading for what you need to know about surgery on varicose veins.

Super Brief History

In 2005, I tore my ACL and had surgery to repair it. I never achieved a full range of motion after this surgery, and many activities like running or skinning on skis hurt. In 2007, I had a follow up surgery to remove scar tissue. I got my motion back and had less pain. But, afterwards, a small varicosity appeared on the back of that calf.

In 2012, I had a blood clot in that leg. After the clot, the vein seemed to hurt more. Standing and cooking made my leg ache and feel tried…so much that I sometimes wouldn’t cook. I would also have pain radiate up and down the leg, and it would just hurt a lot.

The varicose vein probably got a bit larger over the years, but it wasn’t huge. Still, it hurt all the time…

Treatment Course

Because the pain seemed to be getting worse, and because I am relatively young and healthy, I made an appointment with a vascular center.

They suggested wearing compression stockings, which I already did on occasion. I started to wear a pair constantly and didn’t notice any remarkable changes with the leg. (I also purchased some cute ones online. I forget the compression rating the doctors wanted me in, but having a few cuter/more fun pairs of knee socks makes it easier to motivate!)

Since there weren’t remarkable changes with the stockings, the doctors decided I was a candidate for endovenous ablation. My non-medical understanding is that this is when they insert a small catheter into the vein and use a laser to injure the vein, which will then close and turn to scar tissue. Blood will flow through other areas. It didn’t seem like a big deal to have the procedure.

Prepping for Treatment Day

I needed to lay low for a few days after surgery. I was supposed to stay off my leg and elevate it except for 10 minutes of every hour. During that time, I was to walk around to prevent clots. I couldn’t lift anything heavy (namely two little buddies). And so I had to find someone to help with the kids. A couple of friends stepped up, as did our babysitter.

I also needed to find a ride to and from Denver.

Surgery Day

A friend drove me to Denver for the procedure. He hung out at a restaurant while I waited for the procedure to commence. The waiting was the worst part, really, and mainly because I was a bit nervous. The center numbed me up and gave me some sort of pill that made me feel woozy and relaxed.

Once I was on the table, there was some pain. Extreme burning is what I would call it. After a minute of really bad pain, it was over. I think I was more alarmed at how much it hurt than the actual pain.

My friend drove me home, and I got to somewhat relax for a couple days! Holy moly! Heaven! (Yes, it takes a medical procedure for a mama to get a small break!)

Post Surgery and Final Thoughts

I’ve already forgotten about the immediate aftermath of the vein procedure. There was a bandage. There was swelling. There was some discomfort and trouble sleeping. But I was able to walk pretty quickly. I had to go easy on the heavier exercise for a few days (maybe a couple weeks), which was fine for me at the beginning of the holiday season!

But the one thing (and maybe the entire reason I am writing this post) that I wasn’t prepared for was the nerve pain. For weeks, especially at night, there would be tingling in my outer foot, below my ankle and near my heel. The pain would accumulate until I dispersed it by kicking my legs in my sleep. It would keep me up, it would wake me up.

At a follow up appointment several weeks after the surgery, a doctor said she could prescribe nerve pain medicine, but by the then the pain was waning, and I didn’t want to take medicine. 5 months post-surgery and the nerve pain is pretty much gone. If I don’t exercise for several days, I think it picks up a bit, but nothing as excruciating as those first few weeks.

One lingering effect is that I still can’t feel the area where the nerve pain was. I will touch my outer ankle and heel, and it is numb. It doesn’t really bother me, but it’s weird, and I wonder what it mean (if anything) in 5-10-25 years from now.

Also, my leg doesn’t look great. There’s a couple divots where they removed the varicosity and darker veins have formed around the divots. Still, all of this has definitely been worth not having aching varicose veins anymore.

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