One patient’s story about her leg veins, pelvic veins, and vaginal veins…
Heather wrote, “I was very familiar with varicose veins as a young girl because my mother had very large clusters of veins on the insides of both her legs and she had large scars down both her legs from where her veins were surgically stripped in the hospital after one of her pregnancies. My mom’s sisters also had varicose veins and my Mom made it clear that I would likely have that issue, too. I was 14 years old when I noticed my first varicose vein on the back of my right calf. I can also remember a friend in high school pointing out the enlarged veins in my ankles. I remember only wearing long shorts in high school and college because I had started to develop larger veins on the back of my thighs. By my early 20’s, I only exposed my legs when I had to. Long dresses, long skirts, and pants were my preferred style of dress because of my veins. I was embarrassed and self-conscious about my leg veins, but I did everything I knew to keep them from getting worse including wearing support hose(not medical grade though), exercising daily, and not crossing my legs or standing/sitting for too long.
After starting my teaching career in 1994, I decided to find out if there was anything I could do about my veins. They not only looked horrible, but had become extremely painful and achy especially during my period. I found it uncomfortable to stand or sit for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time. I found a vein doctor in Scottsdale(I don’t recall his name) and made an appointment for consultation in early 1995(I was 24). The only thing that I remember about that appointment is that he told me that one of my legs was, “a three baby leg” which I believe meant that my legs looked like what a woman’s would look like after three pregnancies. He also told me that he only did procedures on women who were positive that they were finished having children. That was a very difficult day for me because I knew then that it would be years before I would be able to get my veins treated.
Life went on and I eventually got married at 30 and had my twin girls not long after. I wore compression hose for a good portion of my pregnancy, but they did little to ease the pain. Towards the end of my pregnancy, the only time my legs felt relief was in the pool.
After my twins were born, my husband and I decided we were done having children so I started to research vein treatments on the internet. This was mid-2003 and there were a number of places that offered vein treatment, but most were limited to visual injections(lots of cosmetic vein places, even ob/gyn offices were offering vein injections as a side business) Through my research, I realized that I needed a place that specialized in severe cases like mine. I wanted a doctor that specialized only in vein disease. I settled on Morrison Vein Institute and had a consultation with Dr. Morrison. I was very nervous and anxious, but hopeful about this appointment. Dr. Morrison and his staff were knowledgable, warm and understanding. Dr. Morrison outlined a plan to treat my veins and that included bi-lateral VNUS Closure, ambulatory phlebectomy, and ultrasound-guided injections. I started the process in early 2004 and while the treatments were painful the first week or two(I think I did the VNUS procedure and phlebectomies pretty close together). All of the treatments were well worth it. By the summer of 2004, I felt like I had a new pair of legs. I had virtually no pain, achiness, or throbbing. I was wearing shorts daily for the first time in my adult life and I loved it. Even though I had developed spider veins as a result of some of the procedures, they did not bother me either cosmetically (it’s all relative though, right?) or physically.
I had hoped that I would be one of the patients who did not have recurring veins, but I was not. After waiting a little too long, I returned in 2009 for treatment. My veins weren’t as severe, but still required a phlebectomy, VNUS closure on the small saphenous veins and more USG injections.
Before I became pregnant, I had also developed labial varicose veins. I had one in particular that became quite enlarged during the later stages of my pregnancy. It did decrease a little bit after the girls were born, but continued to be very painful. Over the years, my labial veins had continued to get worse even when I had no pain in my legs. When I went for Pap smears, doctors and PA’s would point out one particularly protruding labial varicose vein and ask me if it bothered me, but no one ever suggested treatment. During my return to Dr. Morrison in 2009, I became comfortable enough with Diana, my ultrasound tech, to ask if there was any treatment for them. She helped me to address the issue with Dr. Morrison and we discussed what course I would need to take to address those veins. First, I went for a pelvic ultrasound to look at what issues were going on. After that, Dr. Morrison decided to try to treat the main source of the problem by going up toward the pelvis through the leg veins and Dr. Morrison’s wife, Terri, injected the superficial labial veins. It was obviously more invasive and embarrassing than any of the procedures that I’d had up to that point, but everyone that I dealt with was so empathetic and understanding and helped me to feel comfortable. I was so glad to have had that kind of environment to feel comfortable not only bringing up the problem but then continuing treatment for the issue. I had to have Terri treat my labial veins more than once and she was wonderful. I have almost no pain or pressure at all any more in my labial area and the one large varicose vein I had in that area is gone.
I have learned several lessons through my varicose vein treatments over the years. First, and this really extends to anyone seeking medical treatment, it is important to do your own research and be your own advocate for care. For years, I went to doctors who noted my severe varicose veins. A few asked me about them, but not one suggested treatment of any kind. Second, choose a vein doctor who specializes in medical treatment of veins. I knew from my research leading up to my consultation and then after my consultation that Dr. Morrison was absolutely the right doctor to treat me. He was competent and capable. He explained every procedure to me, why he was doing what he was doing, and what results I would expect to see. He helped me understand my vein disease. On top of that, his staff is amazing. Every person I encounter at Morrison Vein is helpful and knowledgeable and goes out of their way to make me feel comfortable. They all seem to care about their patients. This warm, caring atmosphere helped me feel comfortable to ask more questions and pursue treatment for my labial veins. Finally, I learned to stay on top of my vein disease. I made the mistake of thinking(hoping, wishing) that I could get rid of my veins once and for all and not have to return for treatment. I was told very clearly by the nurses and Dr. Morrison to return for follow up treatment, but I was hoping that I’d be one of the lucky ones who do not have recurring veins. Fortunately, when I did return, I was warmly welcomed and if there was a well-deserved, “I told you so,” it was done in a very kind way. I have been doing a much better job of staying on top of my treatment to keep my vein disease under control.”
Thank you Heather for your heartfelt story! I know so many people who will relate.