It’s hard for me to remember a time when I didn’t have varicose veins. I remember seeing them when I was 28 years old, a shocking discovery for someone who was not overweight and had never been pregnant.
Varicose veins, for me, were a hereditary condition. Both my parents have varicose veins and it was a pretty sure bet that I would develop them as well. And I did.
Of course, when I started having babies, they got much worse. By the time I was in my late 30s, I had bulging blue veins on my lower legs as well as spider veins. I stopped wearing shorts because I didn’t want anyone to see the ugly veins.
Not only were the veins unsightly, they were terribly itchy, especially at night, and at other times my legs ached. Sometimes I would unconsciously scratch my legs when I was sleeping and would walk up to find blood oozing out.
Even worse, as I entered my early 40s, I noticed that I was having edema – swelling of my lower legs – which is also a common side effect of varicose veins. I had also been suffering from a low energy level, something I attributed to having two lively sons, a job, and a house and husband to take care of.
I finally decided to see a vascular surgeon who specialized in varicose vein treatment, and found out that my condition was actually much worse than I realized. Blood was pooling in my leg veins and couldn’t get back up to my heart, which was causing my perpetual tiredness.
Because the condition was only going to get worse, my doctor recommended a vein closure, a procedure in which she made small incisions in the veins and then inserted a tool into the veins to close them, using radiofrequency waves. The closed veins (which I didn’t need; there are others in the legs to take over for the ones that had gone bad) would simply be reabsorbed into the body.
I had the procedures done on both legs in 2005, something that took a few hours in her office under sedation. I then had to keep the legs wrapped in bandages for several days. Over the course of several months, I could see the old blue veins fading away.
I felt a big difference in my energy level and my confidence. I started wearing shorts again! It was a great feeling.
I had to make several more trips to the vascular surgeon’s office to treat the spider veins, which she injected with saline to close them off.
My legs now look great, although I know that varicose veins are a lifelong condition for me. I wear compression stockings often to keep new varicose veins from developing. Even so, I have one coming out on my right leg, which will have to be taken care of eventually. But now that I know how varicose veins impacted my quality of life, I am going to be vigilant about eliminating them before they’re a problem.
If you have varicose veins, don’t feel you have to suffer in silence. Your veins may be unsightly, but they may also be a medical condition that needs to be treated, like mine. Visit a vascular surgeon or other specialist who is experienced in treating varicose veins and see what your options are. There are numerous treatments and there’s sure to be one that’s right for you.