Stripping! (my varicose veins) Boom chicka wah wah.

When I was pregnant with Jake I started to develop varicose veins.  My calves are full of what I would call normal-looking varicose veins, puffy and purple.  My left leg, however, looks like a miniature boa constrictor somehow found its way under my skin and is attempting to suffocate my knee and thigh.  It’s not attractive.
For someone with my heightened sense of vanity, you would think that these veins would bother me from a cosmetic point of view, but they don’t.  I live in a city where 97% of the time I am perfectly comfortable wearing jeans, and for the other 3% of the time – or if I’m vacationing somewhere warm – I am comfortable in Capri pants.  I wear skirts only in the winter, when I can pair them with tights and boots.  The only time my legs are ever exposed in public is while swimming or at the beach, and I have found that the way to distract people from looking at the train wreck which is my leg is by wearing a bikini and showing a lot of cleavage. 
So I could happily go on living with my varicose veins if they weren’t so painful, if my leg didn’t feel like someone had run over it with a truck at the end of the day, which is how I found myself for a consult with a vein surgeon yesterday afternoon.
People, nothing keeps you humble like standing on a platform, wearing only your panties, under fluorescent lighting under the scrutiny of a medical professional.  I had always thought my vein was kind of ugly in a unique sort of way, and that viewpoint was solidified by the surgeon’s response, “Wow, that IS bad.  This is really rare.  I’ve never seen a case like this in someone so young.”
I took some consolation in being referred to as “young”, but then I felt kind of an appalled sort of reverence for my vein, like I was watching myself star in a reality show about freaks of nature, especially when the surgeon told me that veins like mine are normally seen on women in their 70s.  Way to go, veins!  You’re overachievers!  You’re not content with being just regular varicose veins; you are striving to be number one!  Hooray!
The long and the short of it is I have to have surgery, which I am coming to accept, although last night I clearly lost my mind and started googling “varicose vein stripping” and then found myself spiraling into despair.  I also found myself becoming an insane control freak, flipping through my calendar and fretting if the surgery will be on parent-teacher interviews and if so WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?  Today I’ve regained perspective, and I’m trying to look on the bright side: no more pain, better yoga practice, the ability to wear skirts in the summer. 
I’ll probably still show lots of cleavage at the beach.  After all, I’ll want to distract from my cellulite!


  1. OUCH! i’m afraid to google “stripping” here on the office computer, no matter the context, but it doesn’t sound delightful. you have my horror and sympathy.

    though hopefully it’ll make for a less painful future, which is definitely good.


  2. No pain is a good thing! I hope everything goes well for you!

  3. This getting older stuff stinks, doesn’t it?

  4. Hi Nicole,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your pains! You’re not alone. I work for Vein Clinics of America and we hear this all the time.

    Your story reminds me of another Nicole that is a patient of ours. She, too, is young and had severe varicose veins. Here’s a link to her story—I find it inspiring.

    I wanted you to know that there are a number of different minimally invasive treatment options available. We feel a treatment combination of sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment (ELT) is the safer and more effective option than stripping. The documented failure rate for surgery is 25 percent to 43 percent in one to five years. This procedure has a longer and more painful recovery time than minimally invasive treatment options.

    Sadly, we have no locations in Canada but I would suggest researching your area for minimally invasive options. I hope our website can provide you with more information as well.

    Whatever your decision, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing about your positive outcome. Best of luck!


  5. I don’t care what Oprah says, 50 is not the new 30. My thirties are being defined by weird age-related maladies. Receding gums! High cholesterol!

    Will this be covered by Canada’s universal healthcare?

  6. Vein surgery sounds really ouchy. I hope the recovery time isn’t too bad for you.

  7. This was odd, because I got your tweets last night about then, then today my cousin called to tell me she had her veins stripped 2 weeks ago & is really glad she had it done.

    She works retail so is on her feet tons & when she went back to work today, she said she was surprised at how her legs didn’t hurt by the time she hit lunch!

    I have to have some considerable dental work done this year *pout* & I know it’ll be so nice when it’s done, but the FEAR is crippling. So, if we can get through the lead up days, we’ll be fine.

    Thinking about you! & your veins! lol

  8. Surgery.
    But hey, you’ll be the mom in the daisy dukes next summer at the wading pool.

  9. Good luck with the stripping.

    I had a endovenous laser ablation, a less invasive form of vein stripping, on one of my legs. The procedure did improve my veins (which the technician said were really bad for someone my age).

  10. It’ll be fine. Well, it’ll suck for a bit, but hopefully there will be fun and exciting pain meds, and then you will be free to show off your smoking hot yoga body at will.

  11. Oh, man… sorry about the surgery. And the “wow” comment. Those just stink, don’t they?

    And why do *I* have a varicose vein? I am not even 40. I have never been pregnant. What is wrong with me???

  12. I’m worried for you as that does sound horrible, but I’m sure it’ll be far less painful than anticipated, especially as it’ll stop all the pain you already have. Good luck!

  13. Steve Hodge says

    Nice post, very helpful for us.I will come back here again & again…:)
    Also, to know more about venous reflux disease symptoms, spider veins
    & varicose veins…….

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