12 May 2008

Update on my Endovenous Laser Surgery and Stab Phlebectomy

It has been one week today since I had Mr. Nasty plucked out of me, and his cause, Mr. Saphenous, shut down by laser. All I can say is, "It still hurts!"

The day of the "procedure" (I guess it wasn't technically a "surgery", it was called a "procedure"), I was a bit nervous. I'm not overly fond of pain. But extremity pain is more bearable to me than internal pain. I'd rather have veins ripped out of my legs than my appendix ripped out of my abdomen, kwim?

The first thing they did when I got there was to start medicating me. I was given liquid Versed, 2 Valium, and a Cipro (anti-biotic) for good measure. I was told to sit in a comfy chair for 20 mins to let the meds start working. The doc came in about 10 mins later with a sharpie. I felt like I was going to have plastic surgery. He proceeded to mark all the spots on my leg where he planned to jab into me. Lovely! He also decided at that point that I needed more Versed. The nurse seemed surprised as she said "Really?" when he asked her to give me more. I must have a high tolerance for narcotics (hmm, my past coming back to haunt me?), maybe I wasn't as messed up as he thought I should be. So I drank another cup of the liquid versed. BTW, it is some nasty tasting stuff.

About 10 mins later I remember being walked into the "procedure" room. I do remember laying on the table. I remember him jabbing into my knee (to get to Mr. Saphenous with the laser) and it really hurt. I know I asked some questions, but can no longer remember the questions or the answers. I do remember asking to see my vein, (I am morbid that way) and the nurse did show it to me. It looked much smaller than I thought it would. (Although it could have been in pieces). It also wasn't bloody which I thought it would be. I suppose when they take it out, there isn't blood in it anymore (duh) so that explains that!

The whole thing seemed to go by rather quickly, but it really took over an hour. What I found out later was that Versed, as well as being a major sedative, is also an amnesiac, meaning it is supposed to promote memory loss of the event. The intent is that you don't remember a lot of what went on. So it seems that it worked a bit in me. I do remember bits and pieces, but I don't remember the entire procedure. Oh well, it was probably pretty fascinating and I might have been able to learn something if I had been more coherent. I am sure that some of the questions I asked had to pertain to what they were doing. They were probably happy to not have to answer me. I am also happy to not have felt much pain during what was probably at least a slightly painful procedure.

When it was all over, they wrapped me up. I do remember most of the wrapping up (my drugs must have been wearing off). I had about 5 layers , starting with gauze and ending with huge ace bandages. And it was tight. So tight my toes kept getting tingly and I couldn't bend my knee. The bandages went from toes to upper thigh. I was not to remove any bandages until Thursday morning ( the procedure was Monday). That was also supposed to be the first time I was allowed to shower. Well, I wasn't going 3 days without a shower. I managed to get a really big lawn and leaf bag around my entire leg. I tied it off with the drawstring from some sweatpants. Then I wrapped a towel around the end for good measure. Luckily my toilet is very close to the shower, because I managed to rest my leg on the closed toilet lid, and take a sideways shower with the curtain open. It was a little difficult, but I did it. And I felt so much better being able to shower. People should know better than to tell me I can't do something......when there's a will, there's a way!

Here's a picture of what my leg looked like after taking off the bandages......this was day 3 post "procedure"

So, now it's Monday again, one week later. It's not as bruised, it's all fading to a lovely yellowish green right now. But it still really hurts. I am still wearing my super tight surgical support hose, and have to for another week. I'm still not supposed to stand still for longer than 5 mins or so at a time, although walking is good. I'm not supposed to lift anything or do anything "strenuous" for at least another week. After next Monday, supposedly, I will be almost cured, and can slowly ease back into normal activity. I'm kind of looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to it not hurting when I walk, or when I don't have my legs up. I'm looking forward to being able to sleep on my right side again. (It's my right leg).

Of course the best news was when I went back for my post "procedure" visit on Thursday. After telling me everything looked pretty good, he informed me that while he was taking care of my right leg, he decided to ultrasound the saphenous vein in my left leg, (he uses ultrasound during the procedure, so he just happened to have it there) as I have a small (very small) varicose vein on the front of my lower calf). It seems Mr. Saphenous in my left leg is shot too. He told me to let him know when I wanted to to have the left leg done! I think I'll wait a while : )


Anonymous said...

I hope you are now feeling better.. Im 28 and going to have vnus closure on my right saphenous vein and I am sooo nervous.. my doctor said he doesent normally give people sedatives but I said there is no way I am doing this without one.. Im so scared I have had dreams about it..

Donna said...

I am feeling so much better since I had this done. It's been almost 8 months for me now. It started feeling better by about the 3rd week post procedure. I had a lot of pain in my leg when the veins were still there, mostly from the varicose vein. But shutting down the Saphenous vein has prevented anymore varicose veins from popping up. Don't make yourself get so scared, it's not really that bad. I am surprised your doc didn't want to give you a sedative. But if you are just having the Saphenous vein shut down and no varicose veins removed, it won't even be as bad as mine. You'll be happy you had it done. Even though I don't know your name, I'll be praying for a quick and hopefully not too painful procedure for you. I'd love it if you check back and let me know how it went for you. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

I found this posting by searching on Google. I was wondering if you have had your left leg taken care of yet. I have heard that VNUS Closure has less pain and less bruising than laser. I had a good friend who got varicose veins while pregnant. She had the Closure procedure done and was back teaching school the next day with no bruising - she didn't even take Advil. I don't know if she had the veins removed like you did. Maybe the experience won't be as bad with Closure. She found her doctor on vnus.com and has been so happy with the results. Thanks so much for posting...it is very informative.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna - thanks again for posting this -it has been hard to find any feedback about the laser procedure and I'm due to go in next week. Very nervous but I really want this taken care of . Question for you - did you have injections done to the vein in previous years before the laser? When the nurse did my ultrasound she said she had not seen veins in such poor shape for someone my age (40) and I guess I'm worried if the laser works in those cases. The doc was very casual about it (translation: no people skills) and of course I am trying to weigh the pros/cons of typical stripping surgery vs. this. Wish me luck (and pray i don't cancel appt again LOL)

Donna said...

Hi, No I had never had anything else done to my veins before. Injections only help small spider type veins, not varicose. The only thing that helps the big ugly varicose veins is to shut down the feeder vein (in my case and I think most cases the Saphenous vein,) and then have the varicose vein removed. Are you having laser surgery and stab phlebectomy to remove the varicose vein? If it's a very small varicose, they can inject it after they shut down the Saphenous. I had a few injections done on smaller spider type veins during my procedure. I was in a pretty good la la land for my surgery. I remember bits and pieces, but not too much. And I slept most of the rest of the day when I got home. Recovery wasn't easy, it did hurt for a while, but now that it's been almost a year, I am still really glad that I had it done.

Don't chicken out, get it done. I waited so long and he said if I had taken care of mine sooner, it would have been an easier recovery and procedure. I developed mine during my first pregnancy, 13 years before I did anything to take care of it. And I waited until it developed a clot in the varicose vein before I really was motivated. My mom died of complications from a blood clot, so that was a big motivator for me to take care of it.

Typical stripping surgery is so much more serious with so many more complications. My vein doc said he was surprised insurance still paid for traditional surgery. The laser way is so much safer, less recovery, less complications. Look up traditional stripping online, it looks scary!

I don't think the doc would agree to do the surgery if he didn't think it would work for you. Praying you go through with it and it all turns out well for you. Check back here and let me know, ok?

Anonymous said...

I did it - 24hrs post op. Unfortunately he got in there with laser and couldn't get it past a bad part so only 75% of vein was done. No clue what happens to the other (top) part. He said to wait and see ...hmm
pain in inner thigh, pulling/burning feeling and quite hard to walk but I am trying to get up and do a 15min slow walk every hour. Advil helps! thx again for your email comments and wish me luck.. Glad to hear yours turned out so well.

Donna said...

I'm glad to hear you went through with it and it's over. I don't really understand how he couldn't get through the vein, unless you are talking about the varicose vein. The saphenous shouldn't have been twisted up. Maybe you had something slightly different done to you. I had my varicose veins removed completely and my saphenous was shut down with the laser.

Yes, it does hurt for a while. Try to walk around if you can, it's good to keep the blood flowing. But don't stand in one place until after a week. My doc said I could stand at the sink to brush my teeth but no longer than that.

I'll be praying that you heal quickly and the pain gets better soon.

toenail fungus said...

OMG, it looks as painful as it sounds. How are you now?

Anonymous said...

Tried several times to tell about my positive experience. Got dropped several times. Must be trying to say too much. Will suffice to say: I got this done yesterday. The only discomfort was from lidocaine needles. (Needles do smart a little). Otherwise, no discomfort at all. Walked the dog 8 blocks this morning and shopped at 3 stores. Still no discomfort. My experience was much different than those I've seen here. Will get the other leg done next Wed. My advice: Find an outstanding cardiologist. Get recommendations from others. God Bless!

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Krista Bey said...

Hi Donna, thank you so much for posting about your experience with VNUS closure and stab phlebectomy. That is exactly what I have scheduled to have done this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. I am SOO nervous, mostly about the second procedure, the phlebectomy. I haven't found anyone who can tell me what the recovery was like, although I have found several who have had VNUS. Are you still happy with the results? Did you have any new varicose veins pop up as a result of removing the saphenous vein? How long did you wear the compression stockings? My doctor's nurse said I should wear them for the first two weeks (as you mentioned) and then "as often as possible after that". Do I really need to wear them on and off for the rest of my life?? I REALLY appreciate your input! Thank you, Krista