Don’t you just love all the things that come with having a sweet, precious baby? The snuggles, the baby smells, and all the joy.
And there’s the other side of motherhood. The hormones, the weight fluctuation, the stretch marks, and for me, varicose veins. With pregnancy number one, I had virtually no problems. But baby number two brought hypothyroidism, severe acid reflux, and some really awesome leg veins.
For almost five years I wrote off my bulging veins as just another visual prize of motherhood. But then about a year ago, my veins started to ache, burn, and itch like crazy. Long car rides or standing in place became painful and I knew it was time to get checked out.
Side note, I am not a medical doctor or nurse so my experience with vein ablation is simply that, my personal experience. Every individual’s experience and recovery is going to be different so make sure to seek medical advice for your individual health concerns.
I googled my procedure about a dozen times and was met with medical jargon that made no sense to me, and vague Yelp reviews that offered no real insight into the actual procedure. This is what prompted me to write this review on radio frequency vein ablation.
Reno Vein Clinic
The Reno Vein Clinic was recommended to me by a close friend and I was able to get an appointment within a few weeks.
After a quick exam and an ultrasound, the doctor recommended an in-office procedure to not only take care of the aesthetic portion of my veins, but to alleviate my pain and discomfort.
For a variety of possibilities (pregnancy, weight gain and loss, genetics), my vein was pumping up, then back flowing in the opposite direction, causing pooling within the veins. This pooling is what gave my varicose veins their bulging and rope-like appearance.
In medical terminology, the procedure that was recommended is called radiofrequency ablation of the great saphenous vein.
My doctor explained it to me using a great analogy. Like the Truckee river, this particular vein in my leg is supposed to run one way, pumping blood towards the heart. And just like Virginia Street, my veins were having to reroute themselves because they were no longer working correctly.
Made perfect sense to me when put that way. So I set up a surgery date that afternoon and was on my way home. Below is a picture of my leg prior to surgery.
Restrictions Before Surgery
There were only a few rules I had to follow before surgery.
Seven days prior, I could not take any Tylenol and three days prior, I could not take Ibuprofen.
The day before surgery I had to refrain from any alcoholic beverages 12 hours before my appointment.
As for food, I could have a light breakfast and clear liquids 3-4 hours before.
Upon arriving, I had my temperature checked, cause you know COVID, and was escorted to a patient room.
Once there, I stripped down to a pair of super sexy disposable shorts and a gown reminiscent of the yearly PAP appointment.
I was permitted to wear a bra but no underwear, due to the vein beginning near my groin area.
After dressing, my nurse came in and went through my medical history to ensure she had all the pertinent information.
This included things like my overall health, any prior medical diagnoses, medications I was taking, previous surgeries, and my reactions to anesthesia.
She made sure to reiterate how the procedure would go and that I would only be given enough medicine to calm my nerves and decrease anxiety. This would not be a twilight sleep or full sedation, and I would be able to talk to her throughout the entire procedure.
Now. I know how this sounds. The thought of being awake while major veins in your legs are being worked on is nothing short of terrifying.
However, my nurse reassured me that the only slight discomfort I would have would be when the doctor was administering shots to numb the path of my vein. If I were to feel any discomfort, she would alert the doctor for more local anesthesia.
Radio Frequency Ablation
From there, I walked into what I would describe as a room similar to the room where I had my c-sections. Bright lights, table in the middle, and a nice frigid temperature to keep it sterile.
I laid down on a patient table and was given the most delightful warming blankets to keep me comfortable.
My sweet nurse started a quick IV and once the doctor was ready, she administered what I can only describe as the best glass of wine I have ever had.
That, combined with the soothing guitar music playing in the background made me realize that this was probably the quietest, most peaceful hour I was going to have all week.
All I can say is that from there on out, it was one of the easiest procedures I have ever had. The local anesthesia was hardly noticeable and all I really felt was a slight tugging.
Let me put it this way. If you have ever given birth in any form, this will feel like a walk in the park.
At one point there was a little discomfort, but after a quick dose of local anesthetic, I was back to happy land.
My nurses and both doctors were kind, caring, and made me feel comfortable from start to finish. There was also a sheet up the entire time, blocking my view from any part of the procedure.
I was originally informed that depending on the severity of my veins, the ablation could take up to two hours, but after about thirty minutes, I was told the procedure was complete. The doctor wrapped my leg in gauze and I was able to sit up.
Because the IV medicine was just enough to relax me, I had no problems walking to the next room where I was placed in a recliner, given some water, two Tylenol, and a snack.
After about 10 minutes, I put my clothes back on and was on my way home, but because I was given IV narcotics, I did need a driver. Enter my sweet mama.
Recovery From Radio Frequency Vein Ablation
Heading home, I was in no pain at all. I was tired, but not uncomfortable or nauseous in any way. I spent the remainder of my day with my leg elevated, an ice pack here and there as the local anesthetic wore off, and made sure to ambulate as directed.
The following morning I returned to the Reno Vein Clinic for bandage removal and an ultrasound. I had about eight small incision areas that followed the path of my vein, each closed by a steri-strip.
When I got the green light that all looked well, I was given what can only be described as the tightest, most attractive pair of nude pantyhose I have ever put on.
Ready for a laugh?
Now, I’m not a petite girl by any standards. I’m 5’9” and let’s just say I am on the curvier side. So, there I am, sitting on the edge of the chair in my thong, SWEATING, and panting like I just ran a marathon. It took a full FIVE minutes for me to get those suckers mid way up my calf.
As I tugged and pulled, I couldn’t help but get a laughing spell at my ridiculousness, which made me breathe, and sweat, even harder. At one point my nurse came in to check on me and there I stood, the tan crotch of the compression stockings stuck at about mid thigh.
“I can’t get them up any higher,” I told her. To which she professionally smiled and told me I could cut the feet out if needed.
It’s not my fault I am so tall and I like chips.
The days after surgery were fairly easy. I took short walks for the first three days, and then extended the time each day after. I had minimal bruising, and in terms of pain, I was the most sore on day five, but the pain was by no means intolerable.
A little ice and some Ibuprofen worked like a charm. I won’t even lie, I was actually hoping for a slightly longer recovery period for a few extra days of Netflix and chilling.
I could immediately tell that the rope-like veins, and marble protrusions were significantly smaller by day two.
My best advice if you are considering radio frequency vein ablation
Make sure you visit a reputable doctor. I was incredibly happy with the Reno Vein Clinic, Dr. Merchant, my nurse Mary Ann, and all of his staff. He is also one of the few vein specialists that is able to perform this procedure in the office.
Ask questions. I am notorious for starting every sentence with “So I know this is a dumb question but…”. Never once did I feel like I was getting anything other than an honest and easy to understand answer.
FOLLOW PRE AND POST OP INSTRUCTIONS! I cannot stress this enough. If you want a good recovery, follow the doctor’s orders. Which means yes, you’re gonna have to wear those atrocious compression leggings for the full two weeks.
Have someone to help you the first few days or make some meals ahead so you can focus on recovery and not being on your feet too much.
Make sure you check with your insurance prior to surgery to see how much of the procedure is covered.
Looking back, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to finally get in and have my veins checked. My doctor informed me that many patients put off being seen because they do not want to pay for something that seems aesthetically unpleasing. When in fact, it may be medically necessary for them in order to prevent complications later on.
I would highly recommend radio frequency vein ablation, along with the Reno Vein Clinic and look forward to sharing my before and after pictures in the coming months!
In the meantime, I’ll just be over here in these oh so sexy compression stockings.
Megan Rix is a former at-risk high school English teacher turned stay at home mama, lifestyle blogger, and entrepreneur. After leaving the classroom to focus on being a mama, she needed a place to document the life of her very strong-willed child and what she realized along the way were all the things in her life that “anchored” her. A love for food, beauty, family, and giving back to others helped shape the blog as it looks today.