What I Wish I Would Have Known About My Spider Veins
Let me start this post by saying, I would NEVER have posted the cover photo of this post with my legs before I started treatment. READ: I'm so happy.
I started noticing my spider veins in high school and there wasn't much of a surprise there. My mom has them, my grandmother has them worse and woooo they're genetic. THANKS YOU GUYS.
I had my spider veins treated with sclerotherapy once in high school and once after college by two different doctors. I spent a ton of money on these procedures in an effort to be less embarrassed of my legs, that often looked blue and green. They would get worse right after treatment, then better and I was so excited. I'd look down a year or so after my treatment and they'd be back again.
I decided last fall to give it another go with treatment because the truth is, I won't even wear shorts to the grocery store in the summer for fear someone I know will see my legs. I'd heard great things about Vein Innovations and decided to go there for another round of sclerotherapy. The first thing Vein Innovations did was to screen me for vein disease. I saw it as an extra step because there was no way I had it.
I started answering questions about my legs and about halfway through the questions, a lightbulb went off. I had ZERO clue that the things they were asking me about were symptoms of vein disease. I assumed that everyone's legs must ache after an 8-hour work day. We're standing on our feet, of course our legs hurt. News flash: not everyone's legs throb at the end of the day. WHAT?!!? FOR REAL?? During an ultrasound they confirmed I had vein disease which connected the dots for me on so many levels.
It hurts when I run because my legs feel so heavy. THAT'S A SYMPTOM!
I've had my spider veins treated and they still come back. THAT'S A SYMPTOM!
My legs throb after about 3-4 hours of standing on them. THAT'S A SYMPTOM!
So really, what is vein disease? Here's the easiest way I understand it: your veins are half-assing their job. I had one vein in each leg that was sending blood to my feet and not returning all of it back to my heart. Meaning, my veins aren't properly circulating my blood.. That causes blood to pool (for me in my lower legs) and dang it, that hurts. It can make your legs heavy, swollen and really really uncomfortable. Also- it can cause spider veins, which is what I really wanted to go away.
Vein disease is an underlying problem so you can do sclerotherapy all dang day and the ugly veins will come back. What needs to be treated FIRST, is the underlying cause.
My vein disease was treated with a procedure called ClosureFast. You can read the fancy explanation of that procedure here. In Callie speak, they closed one problem child vein in each leg with heat. I won't call the procedure comfortable, but it certainly isn't super painful. They give you the option to take a few xanax before they start. You can't drive yourself if you take the meds but real talk: TAKE THE MEDS. I was awake the entire time and even laughing and joking with my amazing doctor, Dr. Perez. She walked me through the entire thing. With the xanax and a few stress balls they gave me, I did just fine during the procedure. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if I needed to. There is a lot of pressure and a few small incisions. It's short. If I can handle it, you can too. I'm such a wuss.
They wrapped my legs up after the procedure and I was free to walk out and go home. My hubby had to pick me up since I chose to take the pain meds. I took sponge baths for a few days and wore some beautiful compression hose but the week after, I was back to my normal routine. I had a little bit of bruising and you could see where Dr. Perez went into my leg, but nothing significant.
Dr. Perez told me it may take me a few months to really feel results, but I felt a relief of pressure almost instantly. My legs felt lighter. Two months after that, I tried running for the first time. I came back from my run, sat in my car and felt like a kid at Christmas. I emailed Vein Innovations in all caps: OH MY GOD I CAN RUN!!! I JUST RAN!!!!!
I've thought for 15 years that I simply was not good at running. I thought some people just have heavier legs and aren't cut out for running. That part is true, some people do feel their legs are heavy...people with vein disease. My new truth is that I can run, now pain-free, since I had the procedure to close the troublesome veins.
Let's get to the good stuff and the reason I went to Vein Innovations in the first place: SCLEROTHERAPY! Callie translation of sclerotherapy: they inject your veins with a special fluid via tiiiiiny needle. If you've ever gotten botox, it hurts less than that. Some areas hurt more than others, the back of my knee and around my ankle have been more sensitive than most places, but at most it feels like a bee sting.
If you had sclero a million years ago like me, don't worry, they don't use saline anymore (that used to sting way worse). I've had 5 treatments and even my husband has noticed a change in my legs. They feel better and they're starting to look GREAT.
I would have saved myself a LOT of money and pain had I been diagnosed with vein disease earlier but I simply didn't know what the symptoms were and I wasn't being treated by a vein specialist.
Now I know you're wondering- what does this cost? That's the tricky part of all of this- every insurance company is completely different so I'm not sure. I'm insured by a company that is over the top conservative with what they'll pay for as it relates to veins. I personally had to meet my annual deductible before they covered the cost of my vein closure, then they covered the rest. Sclerotherapy can also be covered by insurance depending on carrier and if you meet their specifications for treatment. The truth is: every insurance company is completely different.
That said, my advice would be to go in for a consult and ask allllll the questions you have. There is zero shame in walking in and saying "can you walk me through this? I have no clue how or where to start." When you tell them what insurance carrier you have- they can walk you through your options and they've been incredible at helping me navigate my way though this.
I'm so glad I finally got to the bottom of my spider veins and I wish I would have known way way sooner BUT, now I know and I can shout my newfound knowledge from the rooftops and pass on my lightbulb moment to someone else.