I had HORRIFIC varicose veins, some of the worst my Doc had ever seen. In this post, I cover how I got them fixed, insurance, if the surgeries hurt, what happened in the surgeries, the procedures, how I'm doing 5 years later, etc. I don't hold anything back, so read and watch at your own risk (some of the pictures are pretty graphic)!
My veins have always been bad but I always looked at them like stretchmarks (pregnancy battle wounds #AmIRight).
If any of you follow me on Instagram, you've seen several pictures of #JordansCrazyLegs, aka the HORRIFIC varicose veins I got (mostly) during my first 4 pregnancies. Freebs, they were bad. Some of the worst my doctor had ever seen, in fact. I had two major procedures and three smaller sclero (spider vein) treatments.
Every time I'd post a before picture y'all would go NUTS over them; the questions would pour in! I didn't do a post on it earlier because veins don't really have anything to do with living a frugal life. However, I know how much my life has changed since having them fixed.
In this post (and video below), I'm sharing all of the details you want to know about my varicose veins, treatment, medical insurance, recovery, advice, regrets…and an update five years later!
And as for the results?…well…keep reading to see for yourself!
MY VARICOSE VEINS ORIGIN STORY
Phlebotomists love me. I guess you could say I’ve always had intense veins. It runs in my family. I remember being self-conscious in high school about wearing shorts because you could see my veins through my skin. Then came the pregnancies and things began to change:
- With my first pregnancy, no problems.
- Second pregnancy, no problems until I was about 7 ½ months pregnant. All of a sudden, I had this horrible pain in my upper groin area.
- With my third pregnancy, bam! The veins popped up terribly, especially up and down my legs and my groin area. It hurt like a monkey’s uncle.
- By my fourth pregnancy, they were excruciating. They were so thick and swollen, you could see the bulging through my pants.
What hurt the worst was the big, horrible blood clot in my foot (there are pictures in the video below, so keep reading).
MY VEIN DOCTOR AND VISITS
My doc is Peter Jensen at Utah Vein Specialists and he has been UH-MAY-ZING. He was referred by 2 friends who said he's the best, and I whole-heartedly agree. Plus, it ended up being much more affordable than I thought because insurance covered my major procedures! (Happy surprise!)
I admit I initially went into the appointment really scared they would say my bad veins were caused because I had my kids so close together. Or that there’s nothing we could do until I was done having kids, and I’d just have to live with the pain.
Thankfully, he gave me so much hope and information. Things he told me:
- I didn't have to wait until I was done having kids. He says that’s kind of like waiting until kids leave for college before you clean their room.
- Once your veins are fixed, they’re totally fixed. They won’t be problematic anymore. Sure, your other veins might have problems, but they would eventually probably have had problems anyway.
- I have Venous Reflux Disease. It’s just like acid reflux disease. In your leg, the vein that flows upward toward your heart is regulated by a valve. With venous reflux disease, the veins don’t properly close, which creates pooling, creating aching, hot, painful, horrible veins. This was happening to my legs.
- Sometimes it only happens in one leg. Sometimes the disease just happens to “pick a side”. In my case, it primarily affects my right leg.
Pro Tip: Pick a board-certified vascular surgeon. RUN from anyone who mentions the outdated, barbaric, and painful method of vein stripping.
THE TIMELINE: HOW THINGS HAPPENED
My baby was born November 23rd. While in the hospital, my leg started hurting SO badly. It felt like someone had injected marbles in my leg. And, worse yet, every day another one would pop up. An ultrasound showed they were all surface blood clots. They weren’t harmful (those don’t tend to travel), but the fact that my blood was clotting so quickly was a red flag: my medical team didn’t want a deep, dangerous clot to form.
They gave me this horrible, expensive series of blood-thinning shots I had to inject into my stomach twice a day! (And it never got easier, just for the record.)
MY VARICOSE VEIN PROCEDURES
Before I go any further, let me remind you that I’m not a doctor. And while my husband was watching YouTube videos and Googling the varicose vein procedures, I really didn’t want to know. I just wanted it fixed, and I knew I trusted my vascular surgeon. So what I'm sharing is from my experience only. The procedures took place in three parts:
- The first 45-minute procedure was called a “closure”. They didn't put me under, but they numbed everything. The doctor snaked a hot catheter into my vein and pulled it out, which seals the vein closed.
- The “phlebectomy” lasted 2-2.5 hours. The doctor essentially created about 35 small incisions to cut and remove sections of bad veins. It is a much less invasive procedure than vein stripping (an outdated procedure that’s painful — run from any doctor who wants to offer vein stripping!).
- Several months later, I had three “sclero” treatments. I went into his office for 45 minutes to an hour. He found the purple or spidery-looking veins, numbed the area, and injected with a solution to make the veins look better by bringing down the swelling and the discoloration.
Pro Tip: The sclero, unfortunately, was not covered by my insurance, so meet with your doctor to discuss costs.
RECOVERY AFTER THE VARICOSE VEIN PROCEDURES
Recovery over the first few days was pretty uncomfortable. I had a ton of tiny little incisions in my leg, so I had to leave the bandages on for a couple of days and leave my leg elevated.
Oftentimes, there can be some nerve damage, but it gets better over time.
When I had sclero treatment, I had to wear horrible compression hose that I hated. I had to wear them 24 hours a day for three days after the procedures (it was even more than that after the bigger procedures). Then I wore them during the day for the next couple of weeks.
MY VARICOSE VEINS: BEFORE AND AFTER
Now that my procedures are all done (for the most part), there was no denying how curious you all were. I'm here to share the details and advice about my procedures!
YOUR VARICOSE VEINS QUESTIONS
You have had SO many questions, so in addition to my in-depth varicose vein video (below), I answer your most frequently asked questions –including how I'm doing five years later!
HOW AM I DOING TODAY? ANY LEG UPDATES?
It’s been 5 years since I had the varicose vein procedures, and I am a totally different person. I’m not afraid to wear a swimsuit or shorts, or get pregnant.
Everything he fixed is still fixed. But every time I’m pregnant new ones have come up. They haven’t been that bad since. I want to get them fixed since the twins but insurance is rough. Dr. Jensen was awesome. They don’t hurt save for when I’m pregnant. I still prefer a spray tan but I don’t have any bulging veins.
My legs feel great. My big problem veins are removed, and once they’re fixed they don’t break again. I still have venous reflux disease, so stress and strain cause stress to it again. If I were to become a runner, when I’m older, and everything starts sagging, or if I gain a lot of weight, or have a job where I’m on my feet all day, then that would exacerbate the problem. I just have to keep up on it. That’s why I try to stay healthy and fit, drink a lot of water, and keep my weight in check.
WILL MY VEINS CONTINUE TO GO BAD?
Yes and No. I do have venous reflux disease, so I know I have bad vein valves. As I get older or gain weight, or get pregnant, something will likely go wrong again. BUT any of the veins that have been fixed are FIXED.
I wish I would have done it sooner because I lived with so much horror, pain, and embarrassment that I should have gone. I am so glad that I did the varicose veins procedures and treatments, because for now, I have no more pain, my leg looks a thousand times better, and it was worth every dime. Totally worth it!
ANY WORDS OF ADVICE?
- If you are not using a board-certified vascular surgeon, RUN.
- If anyone says the word “stripping” RUN. That means they are outdated in their procedures or they don’t have the proper certifications for a less invasive procedure. I’ve had too many friends go to bad people who’ve had bad results, and I’m really protective of my people.
- Wear strong compression hose and follow the instructions of your doctor for the best results.
FINANCIAL/FRUGAL TIPS FOR HAVING THIS VEIN PROCEDURE:
- I recommend having an HSA or savings account just for medical purposes, where you set aside money each month just for medical expenses. That way when something like this comes along, you're not dipping into your family savings or “everyday” money to pay for it!
- Always check with your insurance! It's amazing what things can be covered! Not just with veins, but if ANYTHING in or on your body is bugging you, call your insurance (or talk to your doc) and there might be a way to have part or all of it covered!
- Price-shop, and ask prices! While you do want a good, reputable doctor, sometimes doctors could be just as credible, but cost less than others for whatever reason…and not because of quality of care! Maybe they have less overhead because of rent/mortgage, staff, location, etc. Either way, be sure to ask your doc upfront what the expected costs will be so you aren't surprised when the bills come in the mail.
Pro Tip: Whether you need sclero treatments or want to pay down other debt, don't forget about my Secret Sauce online budgeting program, Budget Boot Camp! Our super fun video program makes money easy to understand. All you need is a screen and you're set!
And don't forget, if you don't save at LEAST what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime. You've got nothing to lose! Use the code FCFBLOG to get an extra 10% off, because I love you 😉
MY “TELL ALL” VARICOSE VEIN VIDEO
WARNING: This video leaves nothing to the imagination, peeps, so fair warning that some of the pictures are pretty graphic! So close your eyes to the “procedures” section of the video if you don't want to see it. Either way, I hope this video helps someone somewhere!!
Ok, with all that being said here's the video! Watch online or click and watch below:
So there you go!
Sorry about all the nasty pics, I'm sure they are forever burned in your memory (in a bad way. Oops!). I just hope my story and experience helps someone, somewhere!
Ready for some more great posts?
- Check out my simplest budgeting method ever + FREE printables! This post is updated, new, and improved!)
- Read all about my best, unconventional\ laundry hacks, tips, and tricks to save time and money in the laundry room!
- Learn why my block schedule system is an absolute game changer!
Be well! XOXO,