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Anyone had varicose vein surgery?

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Old 04-24-2012, 04:57 PM   #1
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Default Anyone had varicose vein surgery?

I have terrible veins - they started when I was 18 with a ropy one on the back of one knee, and now... 25 years and 3 babies later.. well my legs are pretty darned awful. TONS of spider veins, broken capilleries, and I now have purple small veins at my ankles, and a HUGE ropy vein on my upper thigh (I looked it up - it's the biggest one, the large saphenous vein). Ugh!

So I asked my doctor yesterday what could be done, and she's gotten me an appt. with a specialist for this friday. She says he'll do surgical stripping, all the way down my leg from the groin to the ankle. Sounds terrible. And upon further research, it also sounds very old-school. Everything now seems to mention laser or radio-wave ablation. I'll go see what he says, but if I don't like it, I may wait 'til I'm back in Canada and have it done there.

Anyhow, just wondering if anyone has had experience with this surgery?
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:21 PM   #2
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THis is actually making me feel better - I always felt like my varicose veins were my fault because I was overweight... that I'd caused them. But since not a single other person on this board seems to have them... it must just be biology! (I'm sure my excess weight doesn't help, but still....).

My very thin grandmother had them very bad too, so I know they do run in families.

Y'all are lucky you don't have 'em though!
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:58 PM   #3
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hello kirsteng!! I saw your first post and purposely didn't answer because ...this is just a peculiarity of mine...when I think about veins and such, i truly start to get lightheaded and faint-feeling. And unfortunately, I have one running over my kneecap..ughghghg!!! I have been too chicken to go to a doctor about it though. It doesn't bother me pain-wise or anything, I just think of it lurking under my pants..big and ugly...

the thought of an operation...the 'surgical stripping' mention ...OMG I feel the blood just draining from my head as I'm writing this!! I want to be helpful and supportive but I just can't think about it. I'm sorry!!

p.s. some tough 'biker chick' huh
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:19 PM   #4
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Yep, had laser surgery on the saphenous veins in both legs. Doc said it's mainly a genetic problem but that my weight probably contributed. It'd have been a shame to escape with no fat guilt there.

My surgery was successful as far as the varicose veins. No more ropiness or pain. A few months after my surgery I did develop a life threatening blood clot in one leg. Docs said it wasn't related to the varicose veins & instead blamed birth control pills. Still a little skeptical.

Even the laser surgery is not totally non invasive. In order to get rid of your existing bad veins, they have to make tiny incisions and pull them out. Overall, I did survive, and my legs look and feel much better.

Do talk to the specialist. I doubt they will recommend "vein stripping" lol. You have some fun leg ultrasounds in your future.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:02 PM   #5
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Default re:

I posted this somewhere else some time ago and I'll post it here:

-----------
I've had both done and here's what I know:

Varicose veins and spider veins are essentially 2 different things in the medical world so it helps to think of them differently.

Varicose veins are usually treated by stripping (how I had mine 5 yrs ago) and laser. Sometimes you can get it covered by insurance. Mine was, just talk to the doctor about it. It was odd though, that my insurance would only cover the old style stripping and not the laser. It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be but you'll have to wear compression stockings for awhile. So far, my varicose veins have not reappeared.

Spider veins annoy me. They are usually treated with something called sclerotherapy. That involves having a solution injected into the vein which causes it to collapse and thus disappear. This is usually cosmetic surgery and costs a few hundred dollars. (mine was $200). Call a couple of places as the price varies. It also really isn't that painful and you will have to wear compression stockings.

One thing you don't read too often is that spider veins have a tendency to reappear after a few years. (which is why they annoy me) Mine did, so I had another sclero session. It's also highly dependent on the skill of the person doing it and their ability to get the needle into small veins. They sometimes takes up to 4 weeks to fade as well.

I'd definitely do it again, and probably will in another two years, although I'm hoping by losing weight the spiders don't make such a common reappearance.

You can get both procedures done at the same time.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:19 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses - it's good to hear what I'm up against! The thought of the incisions don't bother me as much... I really don't love the idea of the general anasthetic my dr. said was required, nor the whole leg knitting-needle-pulling images I've gotten from the stripping technique.

Which brings me to:


Quote:
Originally Posted by VermontMom View Post
hello kirsteng!! I saw your first post and purposely didn't answer because ...this is just a peculiarity of mine...when I think about veins and such, i truly start to get lightheaded and faint-feeling. And unfortunately, I have one running over my kneecap..ughghghg!!! I have been too chicken to go to a doctor about it though. It doesn't bother me pain-wise or anything, I just think of it lurking under my pants..big and ugly...

the thought of an operation...the 'surgical stripping' mention ...OMG I feel the blood just draining from my head as I'm writing this!! I want to be helpful and supportive but I just can't think about it. I'm sorry!!

p.s. some tough 'biker chick' huh

Thanks for the morning laugh! That was really hilarious... 'lurking' under your pants..

My husband is the exact same way, I can't discuss any of this stuff with him or he starts to look pale and sweaty.

I'll let you know how it goes for me on Friday - and hey, maybe it won't be too bad and you'll get the courage to at least look at yours!
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:53 PM   #7
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I'd look for a doctor who does EVLT (the laser procedure) instead of surgical stripping. You don't have to be put under, and the recovery is much easier. You may find that your insurance will cover the procedure if they prove that you have venous reflux (i.e. the valves that keep blood moving in one direction (up) don't work, allowing pooling in the veins below).

I had EVLT and ambulatory phlebectomy (where they cut out the bulging veins) done last year, and for the first time in my life I'm comfortable wearing shorts this year. LOVE it.

They won't do both legs at once - I think a minimum of 4-6 weeks in between is required. There was definitely a recovery period where I was pretty sore. A week or two per leg, I'd say.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:46 AM   #8
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Thanks Blueberries - that's exactly what they said they want to do. EVLT followed by phlebectomy, but they are going to do both legs at once, under general anesthesia (he said it would be a 2-3 hour procedure, as I have LOTS of veins).

I go for the ultrasound next Wednesday.

The phlebectomy part sure is disgusting though, I should NOT have youtubed it!
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:58 PM   #9
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This honestly makes me feel much better i really think you should find a doctor like blueberries said
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:20 PM   #10
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Update for anyone interested:

Had the surgery last Friday. It took a full 3 hours, doc said I had more than he had expected and it was more complicated than he'd thought (not sure how that's possible after having an hour-long ultrasound prior.. shouldn't it all have been pretty clear by then??)

I had to stay the night in the hospital, got two doses of blood thinners against possible clots, which made all the little incisions bleed like crazy. They just tape them, don't stitch them, so even now 3 days later, they're still oozing. My legs are bruised like you wouldn't believe, some bruises 5 inches across and a foot long and raised. It really does look terrible, but surprisingly is not all that painful. I'm just taking tylenol and an antiinflammatory and not even keeping up with the schedule - to no ill effect. My dr did prescribe prednisone for a week (something to do with the laser treatment) but after reading the side effects I decided to take my chances without it. Not many other (north american) drs were prescribing it either.. so I hope that was a good choice.

Anyhow, I'll update in a couple of weeks to let anyone who might be facing this procedure know how it all turned out./
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:37 PM   #11
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Kirsteng - yes, I have been wondering how things were for you! thanks so much for keeping in touch. I sure hope your recovery is quicker than expected and the results are great Oh and how pale and sweaty did your DH get
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Old 05-28-2012, 01:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VermontMom View Post
Kirsteng - yes, I have been wondering how things were for you! thanks so much for keeping in touch. I sure hope your recovery is quicker than expected and the results are great Oh and how pale and sweaty did your DH get

Ohhhh... pretty darned pale and sweaty. Lots of grimacing and looking the other way when I'm putting on my compression stockings. Then there was the creepy detail of the little vein ends that stick out of the incision points in some spots... DH can't even THINK about looking closely at those!
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Old 05-28-2012, 02:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Update for anyone interested:

Had the surgery last Friday. It took a full 3 hours, doc said I had more than he had expected
Kirsteng, thanks for the update. I was wondering how the surgery turned out. Keep us posted!
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:41 AM   #14
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One month later update:


Weeeeellllll.... the jury's still out on whether this surgery was a success or not. I would not have believed that after almost 5 weeks, I still have pretty significant bruising in some areas, puffy spots (kind of like mosquito bites) and lots of red puncture sites.

I ended up getting a pretty serious infection in a few places. What I thought were 'vein ends' in previous post, were actually sutures. I went to emerg one weekend(saw a general surgeon there) as I was concerned at the horrendous infection that was developing. He said they were sutures, but that was really unusual for this type of surgery. Put me on antibiotics for a week. My surgeon still insists that I have no sutures. Very iffy. Makes me think he wasn't even there and left it up to his interns or something.

The sutures are dissolvable, but it could take up to 3 months. The reason I'm having problems with redness and infection is because they're 'spitting'.. in other words coming to the surface and providing a conduit for bacteria. I'm so sick of the whole 9 yards to be honest, and am really questioning whether I shouldn't have waited to have this done in N America.

Anyhow, that's where I'm at. Not that many people will face this kind of complication... but thought others may be interested!
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:38 PM   #15
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Hmm, how strange! I had little end-looking things sticking out of some of my incision sites, also, but I know for a fact that they were not sutures, because I was awake for my entire procedure. Like you, I've just assumed that they were ends of veins. I definitely did not have the infection complications, though. I'm so sorry you're going through all that!
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