Man working out at the gym

Leg vein treatment helps Batavia man rebuild strength after stroke

As a project manager working on a multimillion-dollar deal, Shawn Samii knew his health was taking a backseat.

Still, no one was as surprised as Shawn when he suffered a stroke at the age of 45.

The married father of two went from a busy travel schedule packed with high-stress meetings to being unable to talk, walk or even swallow. It was a humbling time as he learned basic life skills once again, but Shawn came out of it more determined than ever to regain his independence.

Just months after the stroke, Shawn began working with a personal trainer. He was lifting weights, building his strength and seeing results.

After a while, however, his right leg would ache at night after his workouts. He got a tattoo on his calf and it took twice as long as it should have to heal. Eventually, the pain in his leg was significant enough that he couldn’t lift weights like he used to – and that wasn’t OK with Shawn. He needed the exercise if he wanted full mobility to return.

With his leg clearly swollen, he visited a doctor who didn’t have many answers. Worse, he didn’t have a treatment. Shawn knew the doctor’s suggestion of wearing compression socks for months wouldn’t heal him quickly enough to achieve his stroke recovery goals. He needed more.

That’s when he visited Dr. Rimas Gilvydis at Gilvydis Vein Clinic and had a vastly different experience.

“Not only did they do the ultrasound that day, they explained exactly what happened and came up with a treatment plan,” he said.

What happened was that the valves in Shawn’s veins were leaking blood, and that caused his pain. The solution was a two-part procedure – one on the lower leg and one on the upper leg. Dr. Gilvydis noted that Shawn’s stroke history had no effect on the development of varicose vein disease. The condition is inherited and only affects veins in the legs.

The stroke also didn’t affect his ability to receive treatment. Shawn had endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) performed on the varicose veins in his right leg. Multiple catheters were inserted into the varicose veins, through which a laser fiber was inserted into each catheter separately, Dr. Gilvydis explained. Once the varicose vein to be treated was numbed in its entirety, energy transmitted through the laser was slowly retracted (along with the catheter), and the vein was permanently sealed (ablated).

The first procedure happened within a month of Shawn’s initial visit to the clinic, and he appreciated the aggressive timeline that would get him back to a healthy life.

“I found the right team to help me,” Shawn said. “Anything I needed, they provided. They were fantastic.”

Tim Oliver

Grocer Gets Quick Relief from Varicose Veins

Tim Oliver owns Oliver’s Corner Grocery in Dixon, Illinois, where he’s also chief butcher. It’s a job that keeps him on his feet most of the day. The 62 year old had varicose veins for years. (His mom had them too.) They didn’t bother him too much, but in the last couple of years, he started to get blood pooling in his right ankle. It got to the point where it was disturbing his sleep because putting his legs up was so painful.

Another thing that bothered him was the way his legs looked. “I like to golf, and I was embarrassed to wear shorts,” he said. “When my grandkids saw them they said ‘you’ve got owies all over your legs.’”

As the pain became increasingly unbearable, he went to his primary doctor for advice. His doctor recommended laser treatment for his varicose veins. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a facility near his home in Dixon that did laser treatment. However, his sister-in-law said she’d heard that Dr. Gilvydis is a great doctor.

Off he went to see Dr. Gilvydis to have his veins checked out. On initial exam, he was told that he had a really bad case of varicose veins. When Dr. Gilvydis recommended laser treatment, Tim didn’t hesitate. “You’ve got a choice,” he said. “You can improve your quality of life or do nothing.”

Once he decided to have laser treatment, he didn’t waste any time. “Golf season is coming up,” he said. The first week of treatment, he went 3 days in a row for laser treatment on his right leg. Dr. Gilvydis used a minimally invasive laser technique called endovenous laser ablation (EVLA). Tim wore a compression stocking for a week, and the following week he saw Dr. Gilvydis twice for treatment on his left leg – five laser treatments in all.

Tim said there was literally no downtime. “I worked every day,” he said. “It felt better to stand than just lay around. Standing felt so much better than putting my legs up.” And Dr. Gilvydis encouraged him to walk as much as possible.

A month later, Tim went back for an ultrasound to make sure his veins were healing. The very next day he was back to have his spider veins treated too. “About half of our patients have a few residual veins after laser treatment,” said Dr. Gilvydis. “We typically use ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy to treat them. It’s usually one session per leg.”

After completing the treatments, Tim couldn’t be happier. “It’s the best thing I ever did,” he said. “My legs feel so good. I was amazed by how light my legs felt. They always felt so heavy. And they look so good too.”

Tim is convinced that he chose the right treatment for his varicose veins. “Laser is the best way to go by far,” he said. In fact, Tim said that while he was in the waiting room at the vein clinic he met a man who told him he had his leg veins stripped twice and the varicose veins had returned.

For anyone who’s suffering from varicose veins but is hesitant to have laser treatment, Tim sends an open invitation to stop into his store to hear about his experience. “Come in and talk to me,” he said. “I’ll tell you to just do it. Your quality of life is going to improve dramatically, and you’ll be happy you did it.”

treating veins for better circulation and vascular health

Varicose Vein Treatment Uncovers Hereditary Link

For years, Colleen Giachetti’s legs bothered her. It started when she was pregnant. Then she gained a little weight. Over time, the veins in her legs started looking gnarled – a classic symptom of varicose veins. At first, she thought it was a cosmetic issue. But as time passed, those veins became more and more painful.  And it just kept getting worse.

“It got to the point where I was uncomfortable both walking and sitting,” said Colleen. “The last 5 years were the worst. My legs just felt heavy and tired all the time.”

Colleen wanted to be more active, but her leg pain made it impossible. She had always wanted to do something about her varicose veins, but she didn’t have insurance that would cover it. Then, she got a new job with better insurance and she made an appointment with Dr. Gilvydis at the Gilvydis Vein Clinic.

Walking into the clinic, Colleen felt at ease immediately. “It was very upbeat,” she said. “You could tell that everyone who works there likes their job and they want to be there,” noting that’s often not the case at many doctor’s offices.

After talking to Dr. Gilvydis, she knew she had made the right decision. “When I walked into the office, I felt confident I was in the right place and was going to be taken care of,” Colleen said. “Dr. Gilvydis, was extremely kind and down to earth. He understood what it was like to have varicose veins and how to treat them. He’s an amazing doctor and human being.

Dr. Gilvydis created a treatment plan and Colleen’s varicose veins were first treated using endovenous laser ablation (EVLA). The procedure uses a minimally invasive laser technique.

Colleen said she was a little nervous going in for the first treatment, but the vein clinic staff made her feel comfortable immediately, greeting her and playing her favorite music throughout the procedure. About a month after both legs were treated with EVLA, she was evaluated for any residual varicose vein branches.

“In approximately 50 percent of our patients, there are a few residual veins,” said Dr. Gilvydis. “These are scheduled for ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, which is typically performed in one session per leg.  After that, there are no more follow-ups or treatments necessary.”

Quick Recovery Time

During recovery from each procedure, Colleen was told to walk as much as possible. She was surprised by how quickly her condition improved. “Even though my legs were still tender, I didn’t have that dragging feeling I had before,” she said.

Dr. Gilvydis noted that they always encourage patients to do as much walking as possible from the moment the EVLA procedure is completed. “If they are sitting, we encourage them to elevate their legs.  Both of these allow for improved blood return to the heart from the veins in the legs,” he said.

Today, Colleen is amazed by the results. “It’s like having 20-year-old legs,” she said. And they look better too. “Now, I can wear shorts and dresses without being embarrassed.” Colleen said she’s already told people that it’s 100 percent worthwhile and they shouldn’t wait to do it.

The Hereditary Link

Not only was she pleased with her results, but she also learned a lot about her condition. She remembered her grandmother had severe varicose veins. Her legs were always purple and red and painful. What she didn’t know was that varicose veins were often hereditary. And she wasn’t aware of the danger of blood clots caused by varicose veins. “I’ve told my sons that men can get varicose veins too,” said Colleen.

“Since there are so many misconceptions about varicose veins, we dedicate a significant amount of our time to educating our patients on vein disease,” said Dr. Gilvydis.  “A majority of patients still believe that varicose veins are a cosmetic problem and that the symptoms they are experiencing in their legs are not related to their bad veins.”

While lack of insurance stopped Colleen from seeking treatment earlier, Dr. Gilvydis said that as long as patients have symptoms in their legs, all insurance companies cover the initial consultation and ultrasound of the leg veins. Most will cover at least a portion of the EVLA laser procedure.

For anyone who has pain or swelling in their legs, Dr. Gilvydis recommends being evaluated for underlying varicose veins. “A referral to the vein clinic is no longer necessary,” he said. “You can call and make an appointment directly.”

Image Credit: Getty/Ridofranz

Tom Adland

Varicose vein treatments gives patient ‘two new legs’

Tom Adland thought his varicose vein issues would permanently sideline him from everyday life. But then he met Dr. Rimas Gilvydis and his team.


Adland’s varicose veins started bothering him about 15 years ago. Since that time, the now-68-year-old underwent three vein-stripping procedures.


“It was just to no avail,” he recalled. “They came back and were worse, so I just kind of threw up my hands.”


Genetics play a part in his condition, as two of his brothers also sought treatment for varicose veins. And while exercise can help decrease the symptoms from varicose veins (Adland used to be a jogger, and he and his wife, Lynn, played tennis and racquetball and rode bicycles together), even those types of activities became too painful. It hurt just to sit, he said.


Things got so bad that walking a one-block distance with Lynn to a restaurant or shop was difficult. “She would get to the end of the block, and I’d only be halfway there. It hurt to extend my stride and try to keep pace. People got tired of waiting on me.”


Lynn heard about Dr. Rimas Gilvydis from patients who had reported great results with minimally invasive laser treatments that are now available. So Adland made an appointment.


“During my consultation, I started to describe to Dr. Gilvydis how my legs hurt and how they limited my lifestyle. He stopped me halfway through and said, ‘We’re going to solve that. We’re going to give you two new legs.’ And by golly, he did it.”


Dr. Gilvydis said pain and swelling are among the most common symptoms of varicose veins, and those symptoms are caused by venous stasis – old, stagnant blood pooling and collecting in the legs, which worsens as the day goes on. Venous stasis is caused by permanently damaged valves in the legs. Patients often attribute this and its symptoms to being part of the normal aging process, but, left untreated, symptoms worsen: swelling, pain, purplish discoloration, cellulitis, scar tissue, ulcers, bleeding varicose veins and blood clots.


Varicose veins can be easily closed with Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) in an outpatient setting. Once treated, the venous stasis resolved, Dr. Gilvydis said.


Adland said he never had any pain with the laser treatments, a major change from the leg-stripping procedures of old. “There was an occasional pinch, but Dr. Gilvydis was always good about warning me.”


Recovery was also painless, and Adland was pleased that the compression stockings he wore post-treatment had also improved in design through the years.


Adland grew especially fond of the clinic’s staff during his treatment appointments. “They go out of the way to make sure everything works for you. They’re great people.”


He connected to the staff so well, he used his experience working in aerospace to help ease an employee’s fear of flying. He appreciated that staff members were always flexible in making appointments that fit with his work schedule.


The clinic’s comprehensive vein care begins with patient education, Dr. Gilvydis noted. And because EVLA treatment is very standardized, the staff can create a comfortable environment in the treatment rooms: Patients can select the type of music they listen to; they have their own ultrasound monitor, which allows them to see the work being done; and because only local anesthesia is used, Dr. Gilvydis and his team are able to talk with patients throughout the entire procedure.


“We want every patient to understand what varicose veins are, how they are affecting their health and how we can help them,” Dr. Gilvydis said. “The more our patients are educated about varicose veins and their treatment, the less anxiety they are likely to experience.”


Today, Adland can proudly “keep pace with anyone.” In less than a year, he has shed more than 75 pounds, and his ability to exercise and focus on his health has improved with the leg vein treatment.


“I can’t say enough good things,” Adland said of his experience. “I’ve recommended the office to anybody who is willing to engage in a discussion about varicose veins. You can’t ask for a better specialist to work with.”


As for Adland’s “two new legs,” Dr. Gilvydis said patients often describe their legs feeling lighter and younger, not experiencing swelling or aching, and lamenting that they wish they would have sought treatment sooner.


“I am pleased with every single patient we treat, whether the varicose veins are mild, moderate or severe,” Dr. Gilvydis said. “Having specialized in EVLA over the past 14 years, there are no patients that we can’t treat. Tom presented with a history of prior surgical stripping and blood clots. This doesn’t affect our scope of treatment. In fact, the more complex and advanced the varicose vein disease, the more I would like to treat patients, as their results can be very dramatic.”

One of our patients enjoying a day at the pool after receiving vein treatment

Summer fun back on the agenda after leg vein treatment

Until this year, Carla Nipps wouldn’t wear shorts or a swimsuit during the summer months because she was embarrassed by her legs.
Varicose veins started showing more prominently in her legs after she had her first child at age 22. Now 57, Carla said the problem worsened during the past three decades, particularly because her job involves a lot of standing.

Doctors initially told Carla that nothing could be done to fix the issue. A dermatologist gave her knee-high support nylons to wear, but a permanent solution still seemed out of reach.

“My legs were so far gone, they would be a challenge for anybody,” she said.

On a whim, she called to make an appointment with Dr. Rimas Gilvydis in the parking lot of that dermatologist office. Carla had low expectations for the consultation: “My legs were disgusting. I looked like I was 100 years old.”

Dr. Gilvydis told Carla she had extensive varicose vein disease in both legs, worse in the right leg, that were treatable with catheter based laser treatments, details she was never told at previous doctor visits.

“She came to us with very prominent varicose veins that have been bothering her for decades,” Dr. Gilvydis said. “We see many people like Carla who are hesitant to come in for treatment because they either don’t know about it, think that insurance doesn’t cover it, or believe that their varicose veins are just cosmetic.”

Carla had five laser procedures done during a week in April 2017 and said, “now her legs are perfect.”

She felt comfortable during her procedures in part because the staff was so friendly and professional. They talked her through the process. Certain areas of her legs were more painful to treat than others, but not so painful that it prevented her from continuing the process.

Her sister accompanied her to the appointments, and they headed to go shopping and the park district path to walk for about three miles after each procedure. Walking helps with circulation, and Carla was diligent about the exercise. She felt a bit of pain after the work was done, but the walking helped.

Dr. Gilvydis stressed the importance of patients following post-laser instructions. He encourages lots of walking, elevating the legs when possible and returning to work, again, if possible. Patients need to wear compression stockings and avoid exercise and lifting more than 40 pounds for two weeks post-procedure. But after the two weeks, there are no more restrictions.

Carla saw immediate results after treatment, to the point where she wishes she would have inquired about the process sooner.

“My legs were so bad for so long. They would swell up at night after work, and there was a lot of pain. But I was so used to it for all those years,” Carla recalled. “Now, I come home from work, and my ankles are skinny – the size they’re supposed to be.”

This summer, Carla bought four pairs of shorts and didn’t shy away from wearing a swimsuit at her family’s pool. She’s even planning to head to the Wisconsin Dells with her family around Thanksgiving, a trip she had avoided because of water park activities.

“I would sweat my butt off wearing pants all the time. This is the first year I wore shorts outside in public,” Carla said. “I was in the pool all summer long, but was still careful in the sun so it didn’t stain my bruises.”

Her kids were also amazed by the improvements. Carla said they always encouraged her to wear shorts but didn’t realize how bad the problems were until she went in for treatment.

Carla still has some bruising in her legs, but that will continue to clear up over time. She was so pleased with the process that she’ll return to see Dr. Gilvydis in October to pay out of pocket to have work done on some spider veins.

“My staff and I love hearing these types of stories from patients,” Dr. Gilvydis said. “It feels great knowing that the work we do affects so many of our patients in such a positive and uplifting way.”