Do You Know Skin Conditions can be Linked to Varicose Veins?

When most people think about varicose veins, they picture bulging purple or blue veins in their legs. In addition to being unsightly, they also cause pain, burning, cramping, swelling, and a heavy, achy feeling. But did you know vein disease can also affect your skin?

Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when your veins have difficulty sending blood from your limbs back to your heart. As a result, blood collects in the legs and ankles, leading to inflammation, swelling, and skin changes. Read on for some examples of skin conditions that can be related to varicose veins.

Venous Eczema (also known as stasis dermatitis): An inflammatory skin disease occurring on the lower legs because of fluid buildup, this condition typically affects the ankles and shins, causing them to become red or brown as fluid accumulates in the tissues. The skin may become thick, itchy, flaky, ulcerated, discolored or prone to bleeding. Left untreated, it can lead to skin infections and chronic leg ulcers.

Psoriasis: Most people don’t think of vein issues and psoriasis in the same sentence, but a study by the National Institutes of Health found a link between psoriasis and blood vessel inflammation. A chronic skin disease, psoriasis is characterized by red, flaky patches on the skin, primarily the elbows, knees, scalp, face, lower back, palms and soles of feet.

Venous Ulcers: It may begin with a simple discoloration on the inside of the leg just above the ankle – a simple bruise or broken skin, possibly accompanied by pain, itching or swelling. For most people, the problem clears up within a couple weeks, but when someone suffers from vein disease, the wound often never heals. It may increase in size, becoming a painful, raw, shallow wound that produces a foul-smelling discharge. A secondary condition associated with venous ulcers is contact allergic eczema, which is caused by medications applied to the skin, such as steroids, topical antibiotics, and lanolin, along with preservatives present in various preparations.

Treating your chronic venous insufficiency through noninvasive procedures like endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) or sclerotherapy will not only eliminate your gnarled, twisted leg veins, but will help heal these skin conditions and prevent them from coming back. Contact us today for a free screening and get back to loving your skin.

Exercise While Working from Home

Staying active is important for your entire body. It uplifts your emotions, boosts your immune response, and helps prevent health problems such as deep vein thrombosis. Now that many jobs involve remote work from home, it’s easy to forget about moving around throughout the day or exercising. Fortunately, getting the exercise your body needs isn’t difficult — it’s possible even with a busy schedule.

The New Norm is Working from Home

For many Americans, working from home is currently the rule rather than the exception. The good news is that, far from being an obstacle to staying fit, remote work from home can make it easier to exercise. You’re surrounded by comfort and carpet, possibly even with an elliptical machine.

Your goal should be to work out briefly but often, every day if possible. You don’t have to overcomplicate things; a leg workout can be as simple as dancing to your favorite songs for 5–10 minutes.

How to Keep Legs from Swelling

Many people believe that it is not safe for people with varicose veins to exercise. Low-impact activities, such as walking and stretching, are perfectly safe. You can use compression stockings for extra support if needed. Exercising is a great way to keep your legs healthy as it:

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Strengthens leg muscles
  • Reduces discomfort
  • Releases pain-relieving endorphins

These effects are especially positive for someone with chronic venous insufficiency, spider veins, or varicose veins. By strengthening leg muscles, you make it easier for them to push blood to the heart instead of letting it flow backward.

Exercise at Your Desk

Staying fit while spending time at home doesn’t need to be complicated. There are many leg exercises you can do from your desk. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Foot rocking:

    • This simple sitting-down exercise involves rocking your feet from heel to toe. First, lift your heel into the air, then lower it and raise your toes. Repeat several times for each foot.
  • Leg lifts:

    • Lay down on the carpet with your legs straight in front of you. Slowly lift one leg into the air as high as possible, holding it there for two or three seconds. Repeat this with the other leg.
  • Toe stretches:

    • Stand up with legs straight. Gently lift yourself up on your tiptoes and slowly lower yourself back down.
  • Lunges:

    • Step one leg forward with your hands on your hips. Slowly lower your body until your back knee barely touches the ground. Then stand up again. Repeat this exercise 10 times, alternating legs.

Even if you can only set aside five minutes for a leg workout, your body will love you for it. Plus, you’ll probably notice better concentration, less stress, and more energy as a result.

Stay Active

How can you remember to exercise while managing a busy work schedule? One excellent tip is to set an alarm on your mobile device. Leg exercises and stretches can help fight mental blocks anyway, so it’s a good time investment.

Watch Your Diet

Resist the temptation to raid the cookie jar now that you’re working from home. Sugary treats eventually cause an energy crash that makes it harder to motivate yourself. When your brain tells you to reach for a snack, grab nuts, dried fruit, jerky, apples, Greek yogurt or peanut butter instead. These high-protein, healthy foods are great for your energy levels and mental focus.

Don’t Forget to Drink Water

Did you know that sugar cravings are often caused by dehydration? When you feel the urge to open a can of soda, what your body probably needs is water instead. Water is essential for energy production, and consuming eight glasses a day helps your brain, muscles and mood. Replenishing water and electrolytes can even make leg cramps disappear.  

Need other recommendations for keeping your legs in tip-top shape? Contact our vein health professionals at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic for helpful tips. You can also reach us by calling (779) 696-8346.

 

Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Syda Productions

Leg Vein Issues Are A Guy Thing, Too!

When you hear about varicose veins, what comes to mind? Your mother? Grandmother? Wife? If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Leg vein problems are typically thought to be a women’s issue, but in reality, the condition affects the genders nearly equally. At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, 45%of our patient base is male, with a wide variety of ages represented.

 

People usually think of varicose veins as a purely cosmetic issue, but they cause far more troubles than the gnarled, bulging veins we typically associate with vein disease. Leg vein disease often causes pain, swelling, heaviness, and throbbing that make everyday activities difficult. Left untreated, it can progress to cellulitis, scar tissue, ulcers, bleeding, blood clots, and even deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition.

 

Varicose veins develop for a variety of reasons, including family history of the condition. Other contributing factors include prolonged sitting or standing, which negatively impacts blood flow, along with smoking, consuming too much sodium, and being overweight. While young people are certainly susceptible to vein disease, the risk increases with age because of the loss of tissue tone and muscle mass, along with a weakening of the venous walls.

 

There are several steps you can take to help alleviate the discomfort of varicose veins, such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Eating more fiber
  • Consuming more vitamin C
  • Drinking more water
  • Watching your salt intake
  • Eating foods rich in rutin, a flavonoid found in asparagus, berries, figs, and other produce

 

Exercise also helps, especially biking and walking. Elevate your legs when resting and avoid crossing your legs while sitting. Compression socks or stockings may also provide some relief.

 

While these tactics are helpful, the only way to rid yourself of varicose veins – and the associated health risks – is to undergo treatment. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since the days of vein-stripping and other scary-sounding procedures. At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, our minimally invasive treatments such as endovenous laser ablation and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy are highly effective and covered by most insurance plans. There’s no scarring and recovery time is minimal, with many patients returning to their normal activities the same day.

 

June is a busy month for the guys – it’s Men’s Health Month and Father’s Day is June 21. Guys, remember – don’t ignore your symptoms that could be related to vein disease. And ladies, think about all the important men in your life and encourage them to get the treatment they deserve – especially if they’ve been complaining about pain and other symptoms.

 

Stop letting painful, swollen legs slow you down. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and read more about other men who’ve taken steps to treat their varicose veins.

compression therapy

Compression Therapy Improves Leg Vein Health

Treatment for varicose veins and other leg vein conditions has improved dramatically in recent years, resulting in minimally invasive procedures that offer less pain and minimal downtime.

Conservative therapy is an important part of the treatment timeline that comes before procedures such as sclerotherapy or endovenous laser ablation. Insurance companies require conservative therapy to be completed as the first stage of treatment. That means wearing prescription-strength compression stockings for an average of six to 12 weeks.

Compression stockings can help alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins. They support and stabilize the legs, improving circulation and preventing excess fluid from accumulating. This helps get blood and fluid back to the heart rather than pool in the legs and cause related issues such as pain and fatigue, redness, and swelling. Untreated vein issues can lead to further complications such as blood clots or deep vein thrombosis.

While prescription-strength compression stockings are used during treatment, over-the-counter compression socks are a great investment for everyday use to help keep your legs healthy and promote good circulation. This is especially true if your job requires long periods of either sitting or standing. Fitness enthusiasts such as runners also find benefits in wearing compression socks to aid with circulation.

Whether you’re wearing compression stockings for treatment or compression socks to be proactive and maintain good leg vein health, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Wear stockings/socks as advised. Prescription compression stockings are fit just for you, with specifics related to height and strength. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on everyday compression socks.
  • The fit should be tight and snug but not painful.
  • Make sure your skin is dry before putting them on. Wait long enough after a shower and after applying lotion.
  • If you experience any redness or skin irritation, your stockings/socks might not fit right. Be sure to report any unusual reactions to your doctor.
  • The compression in stockings/socks is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. Mild-to-medium compression socks range from 8 mmHg to 15mmHg. Prescription-strength stockings tend to measure at least 40 mmHg.
  • Wearing compression stockings and socks during the day. They can be worn overnight, but typically there is not a need to do so, as legs are elevated during sleep (removing the gravity issue).

Our team at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic is here for all your treatment questions, from screening to consultation to treatment. If you have questions about compression therapy or want to get started with that stage of treatment, contact us online or call us at 779-696-8346.

Get On Your Feet

With shelter in place in Illinois heading into its second month, it’s important to stop and think about how your health may be affected by the restrictions.

Whether you have been binging Netflix shows, trying to finish a 1,000-piece puzzle, or getting lost in a novel, sitting for long periods of time increases the risk for chronic issues such as heart disease and diabetes.

Varicose veins are another medical condition that can develop when veins no longer sufficiently send blood from the legs back to the heart. Our veins have valves that enable the blood to flow forward toward the heart, but those valves can become damaged and weakened over time.

Damaged and weakened valves result in blood pooling in the legs and sitting too long helps gravity push that blood further down in the body. That’s when we increase our risks for serious, life-threatening conditions such as blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.

As the spring weather turns warmer, there isn’t a better time than now to start getting on your feet every day. Keeping your blood flowing and circulating well is important for your health. You don’t have to participate in rigorous exercise every day. Movement of any kind will make an impact on leg vein health. Below are some ideas to get you started:

  • Prop your feet up on a footrest or stool to help elevate your legs throughout the day.
  • Stand up and do some calf raises (stand on your tiptoes, release and repeat) or try a few squats.
  • Take a 30-minute walk (or run) every day. This can help boost circulation and allow your veins to function properly.
  • Participate in an activity such as yoga. There are many great instruction videos available online (check YouTube or your cable provide might have yoga and other fitness resources on demand).
  • Take a bike ride with your family. This is a lower-impact activity that can improve leg health.

If you’re concerned about painful, achy legs, call us anytime or click here to schedule a virtual consultation or in office screening. You can also hear directly from patients about how our minimally invasive treatments helped their leg pain caused by too much standing and sitting on the job.

evla

Get Your Legs Spring-Ready!

Even before winter releases its icy grasp, our minds shift to spring. We begin dreaming of days at the park, lazy afternoons lounging around the pool, and evenings spent firing up the barbecue. Retailers stock their shelves with shorts, tops, sundresses, swimsuits and sandals. While most of us look forward to the warmer months, those who suffer with vein disease are often filled with a sense of dread. Bulging veins and leg ulcers make wearing the fashions of the season an embarrassing affair, leading many to swelter in long pants all spring and summer. The pain and swelling of vein disease also makes it difficult to enjoy warm weather activities, like softball, hiking, bicyclingor swimming. Even a simple stroll around the neighborhood may be too painful to bear.

At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, we offer a variety of minimally-invasive treatments, like Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), which uses a laser catheter to close off bad veins, which then redirects blood to healthy veins. There’s no scarring and recovery time is minimal, with many patients returning to their normal activities the same day. In addition to getting rid of ugly, gnarled veins, EVLA eliminates the pain and swelling, giving patients healthier, lighter, younger feeling legs.

During your initial consultation, we’ll talk about your vein-related symptoms, along with your medical history, including what medications you take, past or present diagnoses, any prior medical procedures you’ve had, and whether your parents had varicose veins. If we determine any tests are necessary, rest assured they will be painless and noninvasive. Wear comfortable clothes, as you may undergo an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create an image. Don’t forget your ID and be sure to bring your insurance card, as our treatments are covered by nearly all plans. We will even help you navigate your insurance so you can get the help you need. You can save time by completing your paperwork in advance or simply arrive 15 minutes early to fill it out in the comfort of our office.

With spring just around the corner – and summer waiting in the wings – why wait any longer to address your vein health issues? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and we’ll help you get your legs spring-ready, so you can enjoy everything the warmer months have to offer.

LEAN ON INSURANCE TO COVER VEIN TREATMENT

ELIMINATING HEALTH CARE CONFUSION

Varicose veins, spider veins and other conditions cause tremendous suffering for people from all walks of life. Women and men, old and young, active and sedentary – no one is immune from vein disease. Sadly, many people don’t seek relief from these issues because they don’t realize vein treatment is typically covered by insurance. Often, that’s because they falsely believe vein disease is merely cosmetic, yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Those bulging, gnarled veins are caused by venous stasis, a condition in which old, stagnant blood pools in the legs. They can be the sign of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a serious disorder, which can progress to cellulitis, scar tissue, ulcers, bleeding, blood clots, and even deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition.

At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, we accept insurance from most major providers and Medicare. Our effective, minimally invasive treatments such as endovenous laser ablation and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy are covered by nearly all plans. Just because a procedure is covered, though, that doesn’t eliminate the headaches and hassles of dealing with an insurance provider.

Navigating insurance coverage can be confusing, leaving you overwhelmed and frustrated. Don’t let that keep you from getting the treatment you need for those aching, swollen legs. Our team has the knowledge and expertise to help you obtain insurance authorization and certification. We’ll work with your insurance company to eliminate any barriers that might prevent you from getting screened and charting a path to happier, healthier legs.

Isn’t it time you sought treatment for those unsightly, painful legs? Contact us to schedule a free consultation and let us help you navigate the complicated insurance landscape, so you can focus on getting back to your favorite activities. More active time, less downtime.

A Look at Healthy Legs

Treat yourself to healthy legs this holiday season

The holidays are a time of giving, spending time with family and friends, and preparing for a New Year.
Taking care of yourself and treating yourself to better leg vein health should also be on the to-do list this season.

It’s understandable that the busyness of the holidays means commitments such as health screenings and doctor appointments get put on the backburner. Here are a few reasons to keep them top of mind this month and heading into 2020.

Symptoms don’t need to persist

Common vein diseases include varicose veins, spider veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a pulmonary embolism and chronic venous insufficiency.

Vein disease is progressive and if left untreated can develop into potentially life-threatening complications such as blood clots.

Let’s take a step back, though, and talk about symptoms. You might not know you have one of these conditions, but consider these symptoms:

  • Bulging veins that are excessively visible
  • Heavy feeling in the legs
  • Calf pain and cramping
  • Discolored skin
  • Fatigue
  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Throbbing
  • Itching
    Restlessness of the legs

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, they could be the result of leg vein issues. A simple first step is to call us to schedule a free screening or request an appointment online.

Veins issues aren’t just cosmetic

One of the most common concerns we hear is that treatment for issues such as varicose veins won’t be covered by insurance. Our team will help you eliminate insurance barriers by assisting with insurance authorization and certification.

Treatments such as endovenous laser ablation and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy procedures for varicose veins are covered by almost all plans. We also offer procedures for cosmetic purposes that are typically not covered, though we have third-party financing options available.

As we noted, vein disease should be taken seriously and treatment works. There’s no need to be embarrassed about the appearance of varicose veins, to cover them up, or to put up with the discomfort from pain, swelling and other symptoms.

Treat yourself to healthy legs this holiday and instill confidence, eliminate downtime and improve your overall health.

Karol Parnell NIVC blog

Varicose vein treatment brings joy back to Chrysler worker’s life

Long shifts on the assembly line at the Belvidere Chrysler plant had become torturous for Karol Parnell.

Since early 2017, she had suffered with severe pain and swelling in her legs. At least once a week, she would sit on the floor and scream because the pain made life so difficult. No longer could she enjoy a round of golf or even a casual stroll with her husband.

“It was all I could do to work,” Parnell recalled. “I love to be outside, but I couldn’t because of my legs. It was killing me.”

That lack of activity led to significant weight gain, further exacerbating her discomfort. She consulted with several doctors, but they were unable to pinpoint the cause of her pain. Some suggested it could be a side effect of medication prescribed for Parnell, a cancer survivor. Still, no one was able to help and her condition only grew worse. “My legs were swelling up really bad. It was so painful I couldn’t do anything.”

Desperate to get some relief, Parnell regularly took as many as five Aleve a day. She also tried compression stockings, but the swelling in her legs was so bad, she felt like the stockings were cutting off her circulation. She began to suspect it wouldn’t be long before she would be forced to rely on a cane or walker to get around. Yet, she wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. “I wanted to be able to walk again. I was tired of hurting. I’m 55 years old, but I wasn’t about to sit back and let time take over.”

Finally, an answer

Parnell was at her “wit’s end” when she decided to give Northern Illinois Vein Clinic a call. Going into her first appointment, she was nervous because she feared it would just be another dead end. However, the ultrasound ordered by Dr. Rimas Gilvydis finally gave Parnell what she had wanted for so long – an answer. Her pain and swelling were caused by varicose veins, Dr. Gilvydis explained, and there was a procedure available that would alleviate her discomfort.

While varicose veins run in her family, Parnell hadn’t initially suspected they could be the cause of her problem because her legs didn’t look particularly bad. That’s not uncommon, says Dr. Gilvydis, as varicose veins can run deep to the skin and never surface. In fact, most people don’t realize that pain and swelling are some of the most common symptoms of varicose veins. These symptoms are caused by venous stasis, a condition in which old, stagnant blood pools and collects in the legs, worsening as the day goes on. Left untreated, symptoms worsen and can lead to cellulitis, scar tissue, ulcers, bleeding, and blood clots.

Parnell was relieved, not only to have a diagnosis, but a solution – endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), a minimally invasive laser technique that closes varicose veins. Eager for relief, Parnell scheduled the outpatient procedure, which to her surprise was covered by her insurance. As long as patients have symptoms in their legs, Dr. Gilvydis explains, all insurance companies cover the initial consultation and ultrasound, with most covering at least part of the EVLA treatment.

Treatment and relief

Any apprehension about undergoing the procedure immediately melted away, thanks to the kind, friendly, and informative demeanor of Dr. Gilvydis and his entire staff. “They were really nice and professional about it. They made me feel at ease, so I wasn’t so nervous.” At NIVC, patient comfort is paramount and every effort is undertaken to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Patients listen to their choice of music, as they remain awake during the procedure. They can even choose to watch the action on their own ultrasound monitor. Dr. Gilvydis ensures patients are informed throughout the procedure, as he talks them through exactly what he is doing step-by-step.

Parnell underwent four days of EVLA vein treatment, in which soft catheters are inserted into the diseased veins. While the procedure was uncomfortable, Parnell didn’t mind enduring a little discomfort to get rid of her debilitating leg pain. A few days later, she returned for ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy to eliminate any residual vein branches.

Much to Parnell’s surprise, “the results were immediate,” with no downtime at all. She was back at work the very next day and encouraged to do as much walking as possible in the days and weeks following treatment. That allows for improved blood return to the heart from the veins in the legs, as does elevating the legs, says Dr. Gilvydis.

These days, Parnell is enjoying life again. She’s back on the golf course and even vacationed with her husband in Michigan, where they did a “whole lot of walking.” She’s amazed at how much better her legs feel and has begun shedding the pounds she gained when pain prevented her from being active. “I couldn’t believe how much it helped. They feel 100 percent better.”

Top 5 Ways to Treat Your Vein Disease

Top 5 Ways to Treat Your Vein Disease

If you’re one of the 30 percent of Americans who live with a vein disorder or disease, it can be challenging to find comfort throughout the day. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce symptoms or treat your discomfort, such as a venous insufficiency ultrasound.

 

Signs of Vein Disease

The valves throughout your body’s network of veins can become damaged or faulty. When that happens, you can experience the symptoms of varicose veins or other uncomfortable vein issues. Here are some common symptoms of vein disease:

  • Bulging veins
  • Visible veins
  • Uncomfortable throbbing sensations
  • Cramping, particularly around the calves

These are just a few of the most common vein disease symptoms. If you’re concerned about the look and feel of your veins, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or a local vein specialist for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan.

 

Treatment Options

Thankfully, there are treatment options for many Americans living with vein disease. Talk to your doctor or a vein disease specialist about these and other treatment options.

 

Exercise

Perhaps the most straightforward treatment is exercise. Consistent walking, cycling, swimming or other low-impact exercises can lower your blood pressure and improve overall circulation in your legs.

If the discomfort increases as you exercise, you should contact your doctor or vein specialist immediately to be sure there isn’t a more severe problem.

 

Diet

A diet rich in potassium could be just the lifestyle change you need to improve the look and feel of your veins. Many vein diseases are either caused or aggravated by water retention.

A diet that encourages a reduction in water retention, such as a potassium-rich diet, is an excellent natural way to encourage improvements to your veins.Ask a specialist if a diet for venous insufficiency is right for you.

 

Ultrasound Vein Mapping

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to reduce your symptoms, consider ultrasound vein mapping. This professional procedure typically doesn’t treat your vein disease, but it gives medical professionals the information they need to put together a treatment plan.

An ultrasound is a non-invasive way to help pinpoint the exact venous insufficiency you’re dealing with and provide a more personalized treatment plan.

 

Endovenous Laser Ablation

Endovenous laser ablation, also known as EVLA or EVLT, is a powerful way to promote rapid healing with no anesthesia and a dramatic reduction in discomfort. This minimally invasive procedure uses a tiny catheter to deliver light energy directly to a focused part of your vein wall.

This procedure forces your body to use other, healthier veins and causes the vein experiencing complications to be naturally absorbed in your body. This procedure is best used for larger veins that are experiencing painful symptoms. For smaller, more superficial veins, such as spider veins, discover whether sclerotherapy is right for you.

 

Sclerotherapy

Spider veins and other visible veins that cause embarrassment or discomfort can typically be treated by sclerotherapy. While not suitable for everyone, sclerotherapy has provided immense relief in a non-invasive and virtually pain-free procedure.

All that sclerotherapy requires is an injection of a solution into the veins that are highly visible, swollen, or uncomfortable. The procedure quickly closes these veins naturally, leaving you with little or no discomfort afterward.

 

Find Out More Today

Don’t let visible, uncomfortable or swollen veins hold you back. Talk to your doctor or contact us at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic today to request an appointment. Our highly experienced team can provide a personalized treatment plan to meet your individual needs.