Endovenous Laser Treatment of the Saphenous Vein (EVLT).
My new worst enemy. I can admit that I feel completely deceived. Completely blindsided. Maybe it's just a momentary/minute amount of pain and suffering to be endured for the long haul. Maybe not.
See, the reality, the varicose veins of mine, weren't painful. Ugly, yes. Painful, no.
I could have never imagined the procedure or the aftermath of the brief procedure. My first recommendation for anyone considering treatment DO NOT SCHEDULE DURING THE SUMMER (and fortunately for me, I didn't - mere coincidence). Second suggestion, DO NOT PLAN ANYTHING FOR SEVERAL DAYS TO A WEEK AFTERWARD (unless of course you have like to walk around with a tight ace bandage on your leg and sport a stocking for the week after - again fortunately I'm Ok with nothing in the schedule and that I can wear pants!).
The procedure was very quick. As described in my written material, "Endovenous laser treatment is a minimally invasive option for treating the saphenous vein reflux (leaky valves). The first stage of your procedure will involve numbing the skin and then inserting a thin catheter (plastic tube fed up your diseased saphenous vein, (the superficial vein along the inside of your calf and/or thigh)."...More numbing..."The laser catheter is then slowly pulled back while delivering energy to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse and seal shut."
Long story short, the numbing process took the longest of the procedure, with the actual laser treatment lasting about 90 seconds. From the time I checked in at the desk to walking out, it was less than 25 minutes. I'm not a fan of needles, so I was fortunate that I couldn't see the IV, which the doctor claimed would be the most painful part. He lied.
Then when numbing the upper thigh, he informed me that I would feel a slight series of pokes. He lied again. I thought of RUR and his smile and pushed hard on my rib cage with each extreme jab that repetitively went into the thigh down to the knee. Poke my...! Maybe it was more painful for me due to the muscles in my thigh. Who knows, but it hurt.
Then there was the use of the laser. He warned that I may smell or taste something. MAY? He lied, yet again.
Smell or taste was the clearly under exaggerated! He did joke that it would only last a few weeks, which it did subside shortly after the laser treatment was complete. The smell...burning rubber.
The taste? I have never in my life smoked a cigarette. When I was young, I wanted to. I would sit in my mom's car when she ran into the store and push in the push lighter. I would burn her cigarettes that were in the ashtray. I would hold them in my hands. I would lift the partial cigarettes toward my lips, never coming closer than my chin. I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. I don't know why. Now, I despise the smell of cigarettes. I can't stand the smell of smoke lingering in my hair and my clothes and my being from going out on the town. I hate that I wreak of an ashtray after home calls of smokers. I'm glad that I've never tried a cigarette. So the taste you ask? Cigarette ashes.
I can't tell you how or why I know this. For those brief minutes of reality, which seemed like thousands of seconds of hell, in the back of my throat, I tasted cigarette ash. I felt like I was licking the ashes from an ashtray. It was disgusting and appalling and anything but surreal.
After the doctor was done, I was informed that I have to wear the ace bandage for five days. If it happens to fall off (maybe with some assistance of my own) in three or four days, that's OK. Then I have to wear my "chap stocking" for a week to prevent blood clots. Ibuprofen was recommended (400-600mg) for pain, especially since day 2-3 can be the most severe.
I used to think that I had a high pain tolerance. I was wrong. I've been popping ibuprofen like candy every 5-6 hours at 1000mg each. My upper thigh is beyond swollen and I feel like I'm a 500# sumo wrestler. The pain is more intense than the feeling of a "slight muscle pull" that I might feel.
If nothing else, I want the truth. I can handle it. But what I hate the most, deceit. Tell me that if I want to be varicose vein free it will hurt like hell for up to two weeks. Tell me that I'll taste cigarette ash for longer than I ever want to admit. Tell me that I can't workout for a week and showering will be a challenge. Tell me that I'll be in discomfort and that while I can work, I won't want to. Tell me that my inner thigh will feel worse than bad razor burn and a pulled muscle combined. Tell me that vanity may be painful. Then and only then would I expect the worse and understand what I'm walking into. Don't sugarcoat the truth.
Would I do this again? My answer today, NO.