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.
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.”