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Varicose veins can lead to health problems during long trips

It’s that time of year, when traveling and the holidays go hand in hand for millions of Americans. Long trips of four hours or more by car, train or plane can be challenging for people in general. But these days, air travel is uncomfortable for just about everyone, and sitting in a cramped seat for hours is even more challenging for those traveling with vein disease.

Vein disease and blood clot risk

If you suffer with vein disease, especially bulging veins, the chances of developing a blood clot during air travel is increased by:

  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Recent surgery
  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • History of previous blood clots
  • Genetic predisposition to blood clots

Take these precautions when traveling with varicose veins

These simple steps can help you protect yourself from blood clots while traveling:

  • Pump it up – Lift up your heel like you’re getting on your tippy toes to engage your calf muscle. This allows blood to pump from the leg to the heart, which is key for vein health. Do as many “heel lifts” as possible, especially if it’s inconvenient to get out of your seat during the flight.
  • Avoid tight pants – Keep things loose around your waist area. A tight fit in the waist creates a tourniquet effect, increasing pressure on the abdomen and hindering the venous system’s purpose of moving blood from the legs back to the heart.
  • Water rules – When traveling, it can be tempting to indulge in alcohol, sweets and other foods and drinks that can dehydrate you. But make water your top choice. Staying hydrated keeps vein walls from narrowing and can prevent constipation, which also stresses the venous system.
  • Keep things flowing – Wear compression stockings to improve blood flow from the legs back to the heart.

If you plan to travel soon, have varicose veins and are concerned about getting a blood clot, talk with your doctor.

Advanced, specialized vein care is close to home

If you have varicose veins or spider veins and you’re concerned about traveling for the upcoming holidays or anytime soon, contact Gilvydis Vein Clinic in Sycamore and Geneva, Illinois today. With advanced diagnostics and individualized, leading-edge treatments, we’ve helped thousands of Midwesterners overcome vein disease and varicose veins to look and feel great.

To learn more or schedule an appointment with one of our vascular specialists, call 815-844-8607 or click here to use our online form.

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.”

Varicose veins are a reality for men too

If we did some word association with the condition known as varicose veins, terms such as pregnancy and compression stockings would likely be thrown into the mix.

It’s easy to understand why many people associate varicose veins primarily with women. So many of these veins show up during pregnancy, and about three-fourths of people who have the condition are female, according to the American College of Phlebology, a group for health care providers who specialize in venous and lymphatic diseases.

That means a quarter of men – millions of men – are living with varicose veins. At Gilvydis Vein Clinic, about 45 percent of our patient base is male, and the severity of the disease is similar among the genders.

Men shouldn’t feel afraid or embarrassed to address their varicose veins. Risk factors include family history, older age, obesity and prolonged standing or sitting – issues that don’t discriminate based on gender.

As we round out Men’s Health Month, it’s a perfect time to learn more about varicose veins and take steps to address the pain and discomfort you may be feeling.

A good first step is recognizing the symptoms. Varicose veins often look like bulging blue “cords” that appear near the surface of your skin – primarily on the feet and legs – and are caused by weakened or damaged valves in the veins that restrict blood flow. Symptoms include skin tenderness, swelling, itchiness and aching.

Many primary care physicians will recommend patients wear compression stockings to help with these issues, but getting rid of varicose veins has never been easier. Minimally invasive laser treatments address the swollen veins, and patients report little to no pain or complications. These treatments are also covered by insurance, and we accept most plans.

Want to reduce the effects of varicose veins? Recommended lifestyle changes include:

Move more. Standing and sitting for too long inhibits blood flow.

  • Prioritize a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly to improve circulation.
  • If you can, elevate your legs when sitting.
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco.

Men, you are not alone in living with varicose veins. I had them for many years, and the condition was a big reason why I decided to enter this field and help others. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek treatment for a condition that’s causing you pain and discomfort.

Call us today at 815-844-8607 or click here to sign up for an free evaluation and get your quality of life back.