For the first time in 18 years, Autumn McSwain can wear shorts and not be embarrassed by the large, rope-like varicose veins that covered both of her legs.
“I can’t tell you how great it felt to finally put shorts on,” says Autumn, a 39-year-old mom of four children. “My legs always looked like they were black and blue, so I wore jeans, even in the summer.”
What was even more difficult is that Autumn had been suffering like this since she was pregnant with her first child at age 21. With each pregnancy, the varicose veins just got worse. On top of that, she also began developing spider veins in her legs.
“I think about all the time I lost not being able to wear shorts and what that did to my morale and confidence,” says Autumn. “It was especially hard because I was so young. I was hurting emotionally and physically. All I can say to other women my age who are experiencing the same thing is get out there and get treatment.”
It wasn’t only the appearance of her legs that bothered Autumn. It was also the pain. Until she was 31, she was a stay-at-home mom, so it was easier to rest her legs when they would start to ache.
“I would do little chores around the house and then have to sit on the couch and prop my feet up against the wall to let the veins drain before I could continue,” she says.
But when she went to work full-time as a nurse at an acute care rehab center, stopping to rest her legs was no longer an option.
“I was determined not to let my legs affect my performance on the job, yet even when I wore compression hose they would burn and throb,” says Autumn. “When I got home, I would be in extreme pain. Sometimes I was worried that the leg was actually going to explode from the amount of edema I had.”
One day at work, she mentioned her discomfort to a physician specializing in wound care and his nurse practitioner. They suggested she get in touch with Dr. Lam and gave her his phone number. “As a stay-at-home mom I couldn’t afford treatment, but now that I had a job and insurance I knew I couldn’t wait another day,” says Autumn.
An ultrasound evaluation at Dr. Lam’s office showed the right leg had extensive vein damage and would need a surgical procedure to close or remove the faulty veins. But the left leg could be treated with sclerotherapy, in which a saline solution is injected, causing damaged veins to collapse and close.
After her left leg was treated, Autumn says she was in tears…happy tears. “I had been struggling with this pain since I was 21 and I couldn’t imagine how something so simple could change my life so much.”
Treating the right leg was more complicated. The damaged blood vessels extended all the way up the leg to the groin area. But the procedure was a complete success and after a few days of recovery at home, Autumn was able to return to normal activities. “I had a little bit of bruising from the incision but other than that it’s been amazing,” she says.
This fall, she plans to have Dr. Lam treat the spider veins in her legs with multiple saline injections.
“I can’t say enough about Dr. Lam and his staff,” says Autumn. “Dr. Lam takes his time and makes you feel like you are his only patient. He and his staff are very professional. I would highly recommend them.”
Learn more about varicose vein treatment, here.
Learn more about Dr. Russell Lam, here.