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Varicose vein surgery - any experiences or thoughts please?

I was recently diagnosed with lupus with interstitial lung disease. I'm now on 20mg prednisilone and 400mg hydroxychloroquine daily.

I have had mild varicose veins for years, but the last few months of enforced inactivity have made them much worse. In fact, this week, one leg has been causing me a great deal of pain - well beyond anything that is manageable with support stockings and elevation etc.

I will be seeing my GP next week, but wondered if anyone has any experience of varicose vein surgery in this situation? Any questions or issues I should be especially mindful of?

(Just to complicate matters, my leg already has a femoral nail and bolts, as a result of an accident 3 yeas ago - so it's not a straightforward situation to start with!)


7 Replies

Hello whisperit

I'm sorry to read you are suffering with VV. They are horrible things, aren't they?

I'm very interested to read your post. I have had varicose veins since I was around 17/18. I had a job in a restaurant in a local tourist attraction and would spend 10+ Hours on my feet and then go home and cry with the pain. At that age I was wearing support hosiery to work under my trousers, no matter how hot I got in the summer. I still have them now - aged 41. Thankfully I don't get that pain so much now - I think the chronic fatigue with the lupus makes me rest more and I've not done such a demanding job, on my feet since either. I haven't worn shorts in Britain since I was about 18. My legs are ugly and never come out. I have discussed surgery with GPs on a few occasions. Most recently Feb 2015 when I had varicose eczema. I now take Ararax - antihistamine - at night to stop me itching and it makes me drowsy - so that I get off to sleep without time to itch! GPs always want to refer. But so far I have said no. Saying that, I think some health trusts don't do these ops any more - budget constraints? VV run in my family. My mum and her dad before her, )my Grandpy). My mum is now 66 and has had hers operated on 3 times I think. They always come back. My auntie had that new injection method. They came back. I am never sure what is best to do. Leave and brave it or operate. I had a hip operation in 2013 and I have osteoarthritis in both hips - which I have been told will need replacing. And OA in my knees and back. Plus a newly diagnosed syrinx cyst in my spine. So the thought of surgery on my varicose veins will be an end of the list job, unless a doctor tells me I have got to the point where I must have them done.

I also have a haemorrhoid which I guess is also related. My rheumy has suggested I have slight vasculitis too.

(My diagnosis are: SCLE, slight hypermobility, possible vasculitis, various allergies, varicose veins, syrinx cyst, OA hips, knees and back.

Medication: hydroxychloroquine 2x200mg, steroids tapering from 20g over 5 weeks and MMF increasing from 1g to 3G over the next month, plus antihistamines and iron supplements etc. )

I'll be following your post with interest.

Good luck!

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Thanks, Wendy39,

Yes, they've been a problem for years with me too, after a career in nursing.

But my current predicament is pretty severe - every time I get to my feet, it's as if someone has whipped a length of barbed wire round my leg and pulled!

I just managed a very slow hobble to the corner shop, but it is really quite disabling.

It's helpful to hear your experiences - both your own and your rellys. I guess I am at the point where doing nothing just isn't an option, but like you say, the NHS might not be too interested. So maybe the rainy day that I was saving for is about to dawn...

I'll let you know what my GP says anyhow.


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I suspect that what are regarded as cosmetic VV ops aren't done - but if they are bad enough and cause function problems there is an acceptable reason to operate. It is always worth asking for a referral and discussing their status - you can always delay if you want to.


Yes, thanks. I've looked at the NICE guidance, so I will go armed with that. I imagine the sticky point may be the length of the waiting list


Hi I sympathise I had vv for years I had them injected at 18years came back ,then bilateral legs stripped from the groin at 30 yrs they have come back not as bad but back I am now 46 yrs . I mainly had mine done for extreme leg ache I was a nurse so worked long hours on my feet and felt I spent my legs in the air when returning home from work - they are familial my dad has them bad he too had them stripped and they have come back - I have heard it is something they won't do on the NHS for cosmetic reasons but will if painful - best of luck ! X

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Thanks JL1w,

It's frustrating that vv seem to be one of those things that there is no really effective long term treatment for - it seems such an obvious and kind of minor problem! But goodness, it's really put me in a difficult - and painful! - spot. Up till now, I have managed them fine through exercise and walking etc. But this lupus malarkey has knocked me flat - I think I qualify for a diagnosis of FTB (Falling To Bits) Syndrome now.


To update from my OP - the pain and tenderness grew worse over the weekend, so I saw my GP urgently yesterday. There was an obvious line of angry inflammation and discolouration following the track of my varicose vein up my leg - phlebitis.

So I am now on antibiotics and topical ibuprofen cream. Combined with prednisilone and hydroxy, not easy on the stomach eurgh. We will review long term options after this episode has subsided - although he was quite sobering about it - as some of you have suggested, there's no real 'cure', and recurrent phlebitis is quite likely.

Anyway, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, as someone once said!


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