Taking back the reins: Wendy's varicose veins story

For seven years, Wendy hung up her skirts - too embarrassed to bare her legs in public. Even worse, the bulging veins were impacting what she loved most in life – riding horses. Find out how Wendy took control and got back to loving life.

Wendy has been around horses since she was just eight years old. 50 years on, her love of horses and horse-riding has only grown stronger.

“Horses to me are like friends, they respond to the kindness that you give them and show them. They take confidence in your confidence.”

But confidence was just what Wendy was lacking. Ever since her 50th birthday, varicose veins in both her legs had been slowly eroding her self-esteem.

“Varicose veins made me feel left out because when we went shopping with my friends I couldn’t bear to look at the nice skirts that they were looking at because I knew I couldn’t wear them,” she says.

Over time, Wendy’s legs became increasingly achy and sore from riding. The seams of her riding trousers put pressure on the dilated veins running up the inside of her thigh and kneecap.

“It made me feel really cross…why should something like that get in the way of what I loved most in life?”

Then, late last year, a friend told Wendy about an open event discussing varicose vein removal at the Nuffield Health Hospital in Wolverhampton. Nuffield Health had already helped her husband through a hip replacement, so after years of hiding her legs and riding through the pain, Wendy decided to go along. That’s when she met vascular surgeon, Mr Simon Hobbs.

Wendy had just one question - “how long will I be off the horse?” The answer, to Wendy’s surprise, was just one week. She made an appointment to see Simon again the very next day. 

“The first time I got off the horse after the procedure I just thought ‘wow'. No throbbing vein, no sore kneecap. It was a lovely, lovely feeling.”

Simon told her that varicose vein removal isn’t the same scary procedure it was 10 years ago. Using radiofrequency ablation, a technique that heats and seals the vein from the inside, Simon assured Wendy that the procedure could be done quickly and easily under local anaesthetic. Just a few weeks later, Wendy did what she had waited seven years to do - have the varicose veins removed from both her legs.

“I loved the way you felt so special. You felt you were the only one undergoing that procedure. So I left that hospital feeling great.”

Her recovery was simple – she wore bandages for 24 hours and compression stockings for a week. Nothing more was needed.

Now, there’s nothing to stop Wendy doing what she loves most. She’s entering dressage and show jumping competitions with all the confidence and enthusiasm she had as a young girl.

“The first time I got off the horse after the procedure I just thought ‘wow'. No throbbing vein, no sore kneecap. It was a lovely, lovely feeling.”

Then Wendy’s son announced his engagement. Not only was her boy getting married, but now Wendy could celebrate in style.

“I felt great because I knew I would be able to put on that lovely dress I’ve got in the wardrobe I haven’t worn in ages.”

Last updated Tuesday 7 January 2020

First published on Wednesday 9 September 2015