Wednesday, May 28, 2014

EVLT Review and Sclerotherapy too and recovery

I searched and searched before my procedure and there doesn't seem to be too many firsthand accounts of Endovenus Laser Treatment / Therapy.  Lots of questions and promotions for it, but not many real reviews or details about the procedure.

First of all let me say to anyone who stumbles upon this post looking for a review of EVLT:  it's not that bad.

I can't say anything about the results yet, but the procedure itself was nothing.  I will edit this post as time goes on to share my progress.

I was nervous.  Very, very nervous.  I knew I had experienced worse than this was going to be, but that didn't calm my nerves.  Thankfully they loaded me up with Xanax, so I was in La La Land.

It went like this:

Since it was cold, the ultrasound showed my vein was too small when I arrived.  I got to lay with a heating pad on my thigh since heat enlarges veins.  They spread something on my thigh also to speed the process.  After about 45 minutes, it was time.  The nurse washed down my leg with a sterile solution. They covered me with sterile drapes and taped my hands to them so I couldn't move much. I had to wear protective eye glasses.  I haven't a clue how many injections of lidocaine they gave me.  The first two I felt, after that nothing.  It was probably 10-12.  Then they inserted a sheath or (something or other) into the vein and put something liquid in it.  I might feel it they said - coolness.  I felt nothing.  Then came the laser fiber insertion, and I felt that.  It wasn't pain, just pressure and sharp, but mild discomfort.  And I only felt it way up high in the crease of my leg.  They did a test of the laser and said if I felt anything to let them know.. not to wait because it would get worse and it would be very, very bad.  I felt nothing.  GO time.  I felt a slow tugging sensation as they pulled out the fiber.  Strangest of all, I could taste the burning.  The doctor said it usually tasted like an ash tray, but it reminded me of those cap guns from my childhood.  Smoky gunpowder. I don't even know if they still make them... but it was little circles of gun powder and the gun's hammer would hit the tabs and make them POP.  This tasted just like that smelled for about 2-3 minutes.....  and then it was gone.

A pressure bandage was put on and then the nurse helped me squeeze into the 30/40 thigh high compression stocking.  I had to wear it continuously for 48 hours, then daily for the next 3 weeks.  I took three 200mg Motrin.  My clothes were wet so I changed.  Clint drove me home and I slept most of the day.

The day after...  pain wise is about a 2.  It's more of a sore feeling in my inner thigh and if I move certain ways I feel it more.  I'm walking around, just very slowly. If I do too much, I feel it.  My leg is bruised and I can't really say I see or feel any improvement yet. I go back to the doctor Monday.

Here's to hoping I'm back to leading a normal life.... soon.

****

UPDATE:  1/20/14:  I had a follow up this morning.  The ultrasound looked good the dr. said.  They wanted to know if I had noticed any improvement.  It's really hard to say --  maybe slightly.  Very slightly.  With the tight stockings and the soreness from the procedure, it's impossible to tell.  I can still see my veins but they are flat, but that could just be from the stockings.  My insurance approved sclerotherapy also, but as of now my dr. said nothing else needs to be done.  I go back in a month.  So I wait some more.

****

1/22 and 1/23:  I went to the gym and walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes.  On speed 1, and it was too fast.  I would have slowed it down even more if I could have.  I think I over did it because the next morning the pain was ten times worse.  I read somewhere that day 5-8 would be worse.  They weren't kidding.

****

2/6/14:  Today is three weeks post op.  I'm better, but still not back to normal... whatever normal is.  I've been walking on the treadmill at the gym for 30 minutes daily.  I've been starting on the slowest speed and gradually increasing it to 2.5 as I go, then the last five minutes I put it down to 1 again.  I've been doing small squats and stretches to see if it helps any.  My inner thigh still feels tight and sore from time to time.  My lower leg still feels 'funny,' especially if I take off the compression stocking.  Tingly and heavy.  Technically I am free to go with out the stocking completely....  I don't know if I'm so used to wearing the stocking that my leg feels weird with out being squeezed or if it's still a vein issue.  The hope was the small vein on my shin would go away on it's own, but it's still there.  Smaller, but still there....  I will address that at my next appointment.   I'm going to try and wean myself off of the stocking over the next few days and see what happens.   Overall my leg is better than it was two weeks ago, and seemingly better than before the surgery.  I haven't felt the pain that I had since September....the nighttime muscle twitching has just about stopped....  so that is a huge improvement.  I don't feel well enough to go for a run, but I am walking better than before.

****

2/13/14:  Four weeks post op.  I'm happy to report that I am doing MUCH BETTER!!  The pain that I had prior to surgery is almost gone. I'm still wearing the stocking but I am trying to go with out it a little more each day to see how my leg feels with out any compression.  My entire leg no longer aches at the end of every day.  I'm walking 45-50 minutes on the treadmill at a faster pace, and I can still function afterwards.  I still have some discomfort in my lower leg.  It feels slightly heavy and tired.  The bulging veins on my shin have gotten smaller, but haven't gone away completely.  The soreness from the surgery is almost gone as well.   I have my one month follow up Monday morning, so we shall see what my doctor has to say about it.

****

2/17/14:  I had my one month post op visit today.  Everything looked OK on the ultrasound.  The next step is going to be sclerotherapy on the visible veins.  Hopefully.... HOPEFULLY that will resolve the remaining issues.  I went with out the stocking over the weekend as a test just to see how my leg felt.  It wasn't bad...  I can say the discomfort was nothing compared to before the procedure.  But it isn't quite normal.  Sclerotherapy is scheduled for the day after tomorrow.  Wish me luck....

****

2/19/14:  Sclerotherapy day.  OW.  I've had worse done to me, but it did hurt like a bee sting.  Or several bee stings.  I had to lay with a heating pad on my leg so the veins would be more easily accessed.  Using the ultrasound as a guide, the veins were injected (bee stings!) in various places on my leg.  After it was over, I had to lay quietly for a while to make sure I had no side effects.  I was fine, so I got to don my lovely stocking again and that was it.  I hurt a bit this afternoon and feels a little funny. From start to finish was about an hour. I have to wear the stocking for a straight 48 hours, then during the day for 2 weeks.

****
2/24/14:  Still having some discomfort and swelling.  I noticed last night my foot was very swollen when I took of the stockings.  I walked on the treadmill for 40 minutes this morning and my leg feels a little heavy now.  I can't say it's painful, but it's not quite pain free either.

****

3/31/14:  It's been a while.  I wish I could say I was stocking free and normal, but I'm far from it.  My leg still hurts.  Still swells.  Some days are worse than others.  I can definitely do more in the stocking than without, but I thought the point of all this was to fix my leg so it would be normal again....??  It feels funny most of the time.  I've started Zumba at the gym again.  While I can get through class just fine, at the end of the day when I remove the stocking...  my leg just aches.  A few nights it was bad - just a constant pain.  All of the injection points are still very tender.  I have pain in new places as well....   I don't know if this means the treatment was a failure or.... ??   Is this the best it will get??  I had to rent a wheelchair at Disney World because by the 4th day I couldn't keep up with my family.  Three more weeks until my next doctor visit.

4/21/14:  I had my final appointment today. I was not impressed.  I actually overheard the nurse in the hall telling him about my Disney World wheelchair incident and he laughed.  He barged in the room with a smirk on his face "A wheelchair?? Really???"  Overall the leg is better, but still not 100%. I don't have the constant pain that I had before.  I haven't worn the stocking in a few weeks but I have been wearing it at the gym.  All the steps and jumps in zumba just are too much with out it.  My Doctor has no clue...  he said most venous issues are helped by exercise.  Mine seems to worsen, which I have told him that since day one.  Being on my feet, walking, standing, exercising... always made my leg hurt more.  It is still the case after the treatment.  My leg looks fine.  The ultrasound shows no issues and the treated veins are practically gone, as they should be.  The conclusion is to give it more time, another 3-4 months.  Keep moving. For now there isn't anything else they can do for me and basically said don't come back.  I am not very happy about that or that I was dismissed so easily.  And there's always the possibility that my leg hurts for some other unknown reason....

5/29/14:  Some days are better than others. I did Zumba a few times and I have been doing the stair master, treadmill, elliptical, and riding my bike. Just as I was told -- resume normal activity.  I have been going with out the stocking since my last appointment.  I have put it on a few times when I was having a really, really bad day.  Today seems to be one of those days.  Yesterday I decided to try a little test.  I had some errands to do and the kids wanted to visit the mall, so I wore my (used to be) favorite flip flops with a tiny heel.  Tiny, as in 1" maybe?  At the end of the afternoon of walking, sure enough my leg ached.  Sure enough, I could see some dark swollen veins just under the skin's surface on my lower leg and they hurt to the touch.  I wouldn't say they are bulging, but I'm willing to bet over time they will be.  SO if it's not a vein issue, WHAT IS IT??  WHY DO MY VEINS SWELL AND HURT??  Today, the day after all the walking, I'm about to put on my stocking because even sitting here on the couch doing nothing, my leg aches.  I'm not sure where to go from here.......



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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

So I am just wondering - how do you feel about your overall result now? As far as pain, physical appearance, etc? If you could go back, would you do it all over again? Thanks!

Melanie said...

Thanks for the comment!

Appearance wise, the veins treated are completely gone. I can't see where they were at all.

It's 18 months later now, and I still have pain from time to time. I think it's from other veins, not the treated ones. I need to see someone else to have them addressed eventually.

I would definitely do it again. I may not be 100% cured, but it is MUCH better than it was prior to the procedure.

nathalie caumartin said...

Tells me Melanie if you had spider vein or it was the pain that brought you to the specialist? Was it more internal or visible like spider veins?

Melanie said...

I had a small visible varicose vein, probably 1/2" on my shin. Other than that, my leg looked fine. It was there for years and years, but never really bothered me. When the pain started, darker veins suddenly appeared on my inner thigh. No doubt it would have gotten worse. It was mostly just unreal pain and constant ache that made me go to the doctor.

Bonnie Schwarz said...

Hi Melanie I'm not sure if this published the first time so I apologize if this is a duplication. I'm supposed to go for ELVT this Friday. I'm am very nervous. I don't have any visible veins except some spider veins by both my knees. My problem is my valves to my veins aren't working so it's causing me a lot of leg discomfort in both legs. It sounds like you had one leg done one time. They want me to go in for four treatments,the front of both legs and the back of both legs. After what you described I can't imagine going through that four times! Plus the lengthy recoup. The second one is supposed to be two weeks after the first,the third is supposed to be a month after the second and the fourth a month after the third. They said I may need some shots after all that but I told them I had no interest in doing anything about my spider veins,nothing cosmetic. So I won't do shots unless it's needed. It sounds like yours went bad after the shots. Also is it possible when they get rid of the bad veins it puts pressure on the others and that's what causes the others to pop out? I know that I don't know how long I can take this discomfort I have now but I don't want to make a bad situation worse. I am so busy the next few months including an airplane trip. If the recoup is that long with one treatment I can't imagine what four would do to me. It sounds like I'll be doing nothing but recouping for months on end. I am afraid of the pain from the numbing needles and your description of the weird sensations,the taste of burning,and that they told you to tell them if you felt anything or it will get worse all sounds horrible. They are giving me Valium before and oral Versad there so I imagine I'll be pretty out of it. I hope I'd able to tell them if I could feel it. Did you feel any racing of heart when they numbed you? I read that could happen. I'm also afraid of the pain days 5-8 or beyond. I was told that is roping when the vein gets tight with healing and pulls etc. I can't imagine having that feeling all over both legs. And the fact that you still feel bad. Do you know what kind of laser your Dr used? My Dr uses a 1470 which is supposed to be less pain and bruising than the old ones. I'm also afraid with my veins not showing how deep they have to go in to access them. Will that cause more pain or bruising. This whole thing has me scared and depressed. I feel like I'm between a rock and hard place..do it and possibly still have pain or even more pain or not do it and live with pain that will get worse and possibly get a blood clot. It's very hard to decide

Melanie said...

Hello Bonnie! Thanks for the comment and good luck to you!!! I was very worried prior to the procedures also, but it was worth it in the end. I was in unbearable pain before having EVLT. The procedure was painful, but it was over really quickly. I don't think I felt any racing of my heart. Afterwards seems to be different for everyone, so I hope you have an easy recovery!! I still have some issues with pain and swollen new veins, and I have wondered too if getting rid of the bad veins has caused other veins to be stressed and if that will worsen over time. I do still wear one compression stocking when it's bad enough. I do not know offhand what laser was used. I also think the doctor has a lot to do with how things go. I wasn't thrilled with mine, but I didn't know where else to go. I hope all goes well for you. I'm happy to answer any questions!!

Unknown said...

Hi Melanie. I had my EVLT done 10 mos ago although I havent done the schlero yet. Did you notice some veins appearing even after the procedure? Cause I think I am noticing some. Do you think if eventually I undergo schlero these will be completely go away?

Mellie said...

None of mine completely vanished after EVLT. Schlero did get rid of the ones that were still visible.