Mum able to wear dresses again after condition 'battered' her

Joanne Twist, from St Helens, said her ankles swelled so much she couldn't wear shoes
-Credit: (Image: Joanne Twist)

A mum told how she is now wearing dresses again after a condition “battered” her self-confidence for years.

Joanne Twist, from St Helens, stopped wearing clothes that exposed her lower body after noticing varicose veins in her 20s. What started as a couple of lumps developed into bulging, enlarged veins all over her leg and thread veins around her ankle making it “black and swollen”.

The 54-year-old told the ECHO: “I started developing them when I was pregnant with my second child. But it does run in my family too. My brother has them and so did my grandad.

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“It just got worse and worse. My leg was bruised, my ankle was black and swollen. I didn’t have any pain but it impacted my mental health. I couldn’t wear skirts or shorts. If I went to a wedding I’d have to wear trousers. I’d only have my legs out on holiday after a spray tan.

“Last year when I came home from holiday, my ankle had swelled so much in the heat that I couldn’t put shoes on. I went to the doctor for the first time then and had physio to help.”

Joanne’s condition didn’t cause her any pain so the NHS couldn’t offer her treatment. When her brother got his veins treated, Joanne started looking at options for her own.

That’s when Joanne went under “life-changing” treatment with Venicentre, in St Paul’s Square, to help with her condition. Now, the mum-of-four said she has the confidence to wear a dress to her son’s wedding this year.

She said: “I have four children so I never had the time or money to do it but now they’re grown up. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s been life-changing for my confidence.”

The initial consultation was in early February with Joanne having Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) treatment two weeks later on both legs.

She added: “In my consultation, the doctor noticed a lump on my other leg which was the start of varicose veins. So he treated both legs to prevent it from developing. I walked in and walked out again. It only took two hours. My dad came with me and he was surprised that I was able to walk out.

“I was anxious about choosing to have the procedure and having the local anaesthetic was uncomfortable but then I couldn’t feel anything when the treatment was undertaken. I completely relaxed when the first leg was done.”

Joanne, who works as an HR Director, worked from home the day after her procedure but returned to the office that week.

She added: “I’m so glad I finally did it. I’d thought about it for years, especially when I was invited to weddings, as I couldn't wear what I wanted to wear. I’ve been on holiday since and my wardrobe was completely different. I’ve also bought a dress for my son’s wedding. I really didn’t want to wear trousers for that.”

EVLA is the procedure of destroying the affected veins, from the inside, with a laser.

Dr Nirmal Kakani, consultant interventional radiologist of Veincentre, said: “This procedure is performed under local anaesthetic. An ultrasound scan is used to guide the laser into place which is then slowly pulled along the faulty valves delivering heat to seal the vein.

“This is repeated on all of the veins that have been identified as causing your varicose veins. It’s a gold-standard treatment and usually patients are in and out in around 2 hours.”

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