Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Legs

I haven't updated our blog in about a week because we have been busy with surgeries. Heather has had two surgeries on her legs this past week. The first one was on the 5th and the second one was on Monday the 10th.

A little background on her surgery taken from the Iowa Vein Center's website:
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, weakened, dilated veins that have permanently lost their ability to carry blood from the legs back up to the heart against the force of gravity. As the blood falls back down the leg and pools due to gravity, the veins overfill giving them their typical unsightly bugling appearance. Varicose veins cause tried, heavy, aching, throbbing, swollen legs which are typically worse at the end of the day. Nighttime leg cramps and leg restlessness (sometimes called Restless Leg Syndrome) are also very common problems caused by varicose veins.
What causes varicose veins?
Heredity is the number one contributing factor causing varicose veins. A genetic tendency causes veins to weaken and wear out over time. The greater this genetic tendency the sooner it will happen. So regardless of treatment, if you have a strong hereditary predisposition, you will probably form new problems as time goes on. Other contributing factors include pregnancy, obesity, hormone-containing medications, standing and sitting for long periods and traumatic injury to the leg. In most cases, nothing can be done to prevent veins from wearing out, but if effective treatment is given early in the course of the disease, complications like phlebitis, blood clots and ulcerations can be prevented and symptoms relieved.
How are varicose veins treated?
The procedure or combination of procedures recommended is based upon the extent of your specific condition and your overall health and age. Physicians at Iowa Vein Center will recommend an ultrasound and/or doppler examination to assess the severity and extent of your vein disease, most of which may not be visible on the surface of the leg. With an accurate diagnosis of your veins Iowa Vein Center can determine which of the following treatments are appropriate.

Micro-Surgery and Catheter Occlusion
Recent advances in venous ultrasonography and surgical technology enables physicians at the Iowa Vein Center to treat most varicose veins through very small incisions that rarely require stitching and provide cosmetically acceptable results. After performing a Duplex Venous Ultrasound exam an accurate venous map is made of the entire leg. This precise mapping allows individually tailored treatment for every patient. All treatments are done in an outpatient setting using conscious sedation and local anesthesia. There is immediate recovery with the patient resuming most activities usually the next day.
This is what was done on the 5th:
Ambulatory Phlebectomy (micro-extraction) is a minor procedure used to remove varicose veins, both large and small, which are close to the surface through very small (1/8 inch) micro-incisions. The micro-incisions are so small there is no need for stitches. Once healed, they are rarely visible. Bruising will occur and will take a few weeks to go away. A compression bandage is worn for only 2-7 days (depending on the size of the veins). When removed patients are surprised how good the leg looks with the “ropey” veins gone. Then a compression stocking is worn for 1-2 weeks. Patients can return to most of their activities including work the next day and walking is encouraged.
And this is what was done on the 10th:
Endovenous Laser
The Endovenous Laser procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure. Under local anesthesia, a thin laser fiber (or catheter) is inserted into the vein through a tiny incision. The catheter delivers laser energy (heat) to the vein wall, causing it to heat, collapse, and seal shut. Most patients return to work and near normal daily activities the very next day. The catheter is used to treat large diseased veins inside the leg which are often the cause of unsightly varicose and spider veins on the surface. In some cases, other treatments including sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy or ligation are used in combination with endovenous laser to achieve the best possible results.

According to Heather, Monday night was the worst night of her life. I am pretty sure they gave her more anesthesia than the first time and coming off of that was no fun. Her heart would race, she had shortness of breath, and she felt sick to her stomach. She is still at home today resting and trying to recover, so be praying for her!

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