Leg veins can sometimes ache, throb or cause a feeling of heaviness, as well as being quite noticeable from an aesthetic point of view, which was my primary concern.
During my third pregnancy back in 2008 I had a lot of veins appear on my legs and was quite concerned, but my GP reassured me they were a symptom of the pregnancy and that the majority of them would disappear afterwards, which they did.
However a few stubborn ones remained so I was very happy to get the opportunity to partner with Veincentre to treat them.
The process begins with an initial consultation and duplex ultrasound scan, to assess if there is an underlying cause for the veins and whether you are a suitable candidate for treatment.
I was seen by Dr Ananth Krishnan, a Consultant Vascular and Interventional Radiologist and his colleague, Vein Specialist Helen Burndred. Both were very warm and friendly and answered all my questions so I felt comfortable and excited about going forward with the treatment.
The medical procedure itself is called Sclerotherapy and it can treat some smaller varicose veins as well as thread veins.
This is a ‘walk in, walk out’ procedure with no downtime, it is minimally invasive and also very effective (considered the ‘gold standard’ course of treatment).
Larger varicose veins, usually caused by underlying problems with valves in larger veins, would be treated using a laser treatment called Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), but following the scan Dr Krishnan let me know that I didn’t need that.
A few weeks later I was back in the city centre at Veincentre Manchester for my first treatment, once again under the expert care of Dr Krishnan and two of his colleagues.
As well as the thread veins (sometimes called spider veins because of their characteristic ‘spidery’ clusters) there were a couple of small varicose veins to treat and my tailored treatment involved Foam Sclerotherapy and microsclerotherapy to improve the cosmetic appearance of my legs.
Dr Krishnan asked me to point out the veins which bothered me the most so he could target those first, as there is a limit to the amount of treatment that can be administered in one session.
During the procedure which lasts about 30-40 mins, the doctor injects the veins with a chemical solution that pushes the blood into other nearby healthy veins and causes the targeted ones to wither away and eventually be reabsorbed by the body.
It was absolutely fascinating to watch, with the veins vanishing before my eyes. The larger veins required a slightly bigger needle and foam solution, whilst the smaller veins only needed a tiny needle which I barely noticed.
The procedure was not too uncomfortable. I only occasionally felt the quick ‘sharp scratch’ you associate with a routine injection, mostly around the back of my knees where the skin is more sensitive.
After the session was finished the nurse put some compression stockings on me with the instruction to wear them continuously for 7 days and nights. I would need to shower in them, patting them dry (and finishing off with a hairdryer on a low heat setting!)
I then needed to wear them for another week during the day, but could take them off in bed at night. Wearing the stockings is an important step as they help keep the medicine where it needs to work and they also aid recovery, reducing the risk of DVT and giving you the best possible end result.
Immediately after the procedure I was encouraged to walk for about 20 minutes or so. Of course I was more than happy to wander round the stores in Manchester, before catching the tram home. The skin on my legs felt a bit sore, like shaving cuts, but some Ibuprofen settled things down.
Another thing you may experience on the day of treatment is some itching, in which case you would just take an anti-histamine, but I didn’t need to.
The day after the procedure my legs felt pretty normal, just tender. The stockings take a bit of getting used to at first, but there are worse things. Showering in them has been strange, but fine!
The doctor mentioned that my legs would look worse before they looked better and the veins may go a bit hard. It is a couple of weeks post treatment now and I only seem to have some bruising. I can stop wearing the stockings in a couple of days, until the next session.
In about six weeks’ time I will have a follow-up treatment (sometimes two or three sessions are needed in total).
The risks with this procedure are minimal. I asked whether I should be worried about DVT, but Dr Krishnan reassured me that I was a low risk candidate – and the risk is less than 1% anyway of developing a blood clot.
He explained there is always a small chance of skin staining. No one is more predisposed than another and if it happens it just means that where the veins once were, there may be some brownish staining for a few weeks, months or even longer. But at least there would be no problematic veins anymore – and in most cases staining does disappear.
I didn’t expect to feel a bit emotional after the procedure, so that took my by surprise. I think it just struck me how straightforward a solution this was to something that had bothered me for the past fourteen years! I thought about all the times I had covered up my legs and not worn shorts when I would have liked to.
I think a lot of people cover up their legs like this. Of course nobody was ever judging my legs, only me – but I know it will still give me a little boost of self-confidence, plus once the veins are treated they won’t be able to pose any problems in the future.
I will share another update after my second Sclerotherapy session in the new year, as well as some before and after pictures!
Have you heard of this procedure and is it something you would consider undergoing for unwanted leg veins?
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