Vein Stripping Surgery

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These are my legs and the reason I want to go through with this surgery! These are not normal legs for a (now) healthy and active young lady! Read about the surgery process, and my thoughts underneath.

So, this will be my final post about surgeries until I have a date set for my vein litigation surgery, which shouldn’t be until maybe January of this coming year, yikes.

I used to weigh just about 270lbs. Double yikes.

When I was heavier, I was consistently told by coworkers, family, even strangers, that I walked weird. I know this seems strange but I really did walk with a limp, with my feet pointed outward, just a weird looking walk. An obese persons walk I guess. This was because my legs were so unbelievably sore all the time, not only sore, but painfully sore. It’s a difficult feeling to explain but there was always a pressure, and a sharp one at that. I could not stand for very long. When I was out with my girlfriends I was always looking for an opportunity to sit because the pain was so extreme. It really limited my activities on a day to day basis.

I always had a visible vein crossing my left thigh. Since I was in highschool and weighed about 200lbs. Although it didn’t really hurt as steadily until after highschool when I gained the majority of my weight.

Genetically I am predisposed (although I am aware this is no excuse) to poor circulation, especially in my legs. My great-grandmother had circulation problems, my mothers cousin does as well. Women are more likely to have this issue than men, but girls my age shouldn’t be suffering with vericose veins.

I went to see the doctor once I had lost about 70lbs for a checkup. With the weight loss I had begun to see new veins, which I attributed to my weight loss somehow, although now I have been informed that they were always there, the weight loss and fat loss in my legs only made them more visible. I was asked by my physician if they were painful, I said no, although there was a dullness to my legs, it wasn’t overpowering and I figured the more weight I lost the better they would become. So, I said no and we decided not to treat me.

Now being over two years since my weight loss journey continued, and since losing 115lbs… my veins look absolutely horrendous, my legs look discolored and the pain returns full force after walking for too long, sitting for too long, sometimes very sharp and othertimes just a pressure on my legs. I talked to my physician and she referred me to a vein specialist.

So let me tell you the process so far. I went to see this vein specialist (Dr. Coll in Ottawa) and I took my pants off. She came in and made me stand on a stool, feeling the veins in my legs, the visible ones and then feeling from crotch down, all along the inner leg, on both my legs, ending at the ankle.

She was feeling my valves and she sent me to get an ultrasound.

The ultrasound was weirdey-roo. Mostly since it was a male ultrasound technician and I have never had a male doctor, it was just awkward. I had to get in a disposable hospital gown and lie down on a patients table. He hiked up my gown, put a towel over half of me and asked me to raise my underwear at the crotch which made me uncomfortable. Put the jelly all over me (I asked my mom to come with and we were making “babies first ultrasound” jokes the entire time. I even asked the technician if I could have a photo. I don’t think he understood the joke.)

So he used the wand, and moved it up and down both legs, asking me to squeeze my belly muscles which was awkward, what would have happened if I farted? Oh my Lord, don’t think about it Constance… would have been soooooooo embarrassing. Anyways, when he was on my inner thigh I had to flex my stomach muscles, when he was on my calf he squeezed my foot like a sweet little foot massage (quite lovely, really) and sometimes he would turn the sound on the machine and my veins honestly sounded like a windy snowstorm.

Where my veins were bad my mom could see the screen and what it was showing was that instead of taking blood one way, my blood was travelling both ways through the vein, up and down (as you should know, blood is only supposed to travel either with or against gravity, in the vein) well mine, because of my broken vein valves, was travelling both. Which can result in blood clots.

So he checked both legs and one was worse than the other. The vein that he was checking is the major leg vein called the saphenous vein. It’s the biggest one.

So he brought the results to my vein specialist. Then I went on a trip to visit my boyfriends family in the maritimes and had to wait 3 weeks to see my specialist.

She offered me a few different options with regards to my vein.

It’s all covered by OHIP, the Ontario health insurance, since it’s the major vein in my leg and can be dangerous if left untreated. She told me that she could do temporary treatment, for which I would have to return probably every 6 months. It’s salene injections into the vein, which dries it out, reducing the appearance. The problem with this is not only is it only temporary, but with any leg impact the veins could get worse, or more painful. Also, I hate needles to death and getting quite a few of them done all along my leg every 6 months for the rest of my life seems so unappealing it’s not even funny.

So I asked what my other options are.

A more permanent solution is to remove the vein, by stripping it, or whatever an actual vein surgeon recommends. I told her I wasn’t looking for a lifelong commitment, and at 21 years old, I would just rather get it all over with, remove the problem, and go on with my life.

First off, I need to wear support hose every single day. Because they will not fix the veins in my leg, but act as a muscle would, in slowing down the entire process. I will have to wear them every day for the rest of my life. Pregnancy being a real safety hazard for me, considering the swelling and worsening of my veins and legs.

And so, although the idea of surgery, since I have never had any before, does terrify me. I look forward to the pain being gone, I look forward to my legs not being hideous, bulgy, and discolored. To being able to get back to normal things in my life, without fear of blood clots or busting open my veins even further.

There are several different kinds of operations depending on the severity of my veins at the time of my surgery consultation. I will hear which one he suggests in January or later when I finally meet the guy, since there is only one surgeon in my area that does this kind of thing. I will let you know at the time.

I hope this has been informative, if you have any questions let me know, if you are going through the same thing or are just curious!

This entire process could have been avoided if I had kept my weight under control, if I hadn’t gained so much weight so quickly, worsening an already genetic predisposition I had. I retain a lot of fluid in my legs, it is very difficult for me to lose weight from that area, and I am in daily pain, with a lot of pressure there. It is hard for me to go on walks and pregnancy just isn’t an option, because I did this to myself with my bad habits and decisions.

I am thankful to have lost the weight, and my legs are definitely a factor in maintaining my weight loss, since even after gaining back 10lbs my legs pain intensifies by 50%. It’s crazy.

I can’t imagine the damage I would have done if I had waited even one month to lose the weight, to start on my journey. I don’t even want to think of how hard it would be to do this surgery if I weighed almost 300lbs as I once did, how much more dangerous it would be. I don’t even know if I would be able to walk if I had kept that weight on, and for this I am so thankful.

-Constance