Posts

Treat Varicose Veins Between Pregnancies

Your risk of developing vein disease – especially varicose veins – increases if you have a family history of them or if you spend long periods of time standing or sitting.

Varicose veins affect both women and men, and a common risk factor for women is pregnancy. More than 40% of pregnant women experience varicose veins during pregnancy.

These bulging, twisted veins can cause legs to feel heavy, restless, painful, and achy, and increase the risk of developing blood clots.

Pregnancy causes a woman’s body to work harder than normal, leading to the development of varicose veins. Here’s why:

  • The body produces higher levels of progesterone, which are linked to varicose veins.
  • These increased hormone levels relax veins and promote blood to flow in the wrong direction.
  • More blood is flowing through the body, causing the veins to work harder, resulting in weakened valves that can lead to pooling of blood within the veins.
  • The pressure of an enlarged uterus on the pelvic veins can obstruct the veins from draining into lower extremities and lead to the backflow of blood.

For many women, varicose veins will be less noticeable (although still present) after pregnancy once progesterone levels return to normal. For others, vein disease will progress after pregnancy, worsening the look of and pain associated with varicose veins.

The good news? In both cases, a thorough evaluation and noninvasive treatment can help. And a consultation can be scheduled between your second and third trimesters.

During the consultation, we will assess your level of vein disease, explain the condition and answer your questions, and fit you for compression stockings (insurance requires these to be worn prior to treatment). Modern technology allows for vein disease to be treated in between pregnancies.

Our founder Dr. Rimas Gilvydis, a board-certified vascular and interventional radiologist, has spent his career treating vein disease and educating patients, individuals, and the medical community that vein disease – including varicose veins – is not purely cosmetic and that painful vein stripping (which your mother or grandmother might have experienced) is a thing of the past.

The Northern Illinois Vein Clinic team has performed more than 24,000 successful laser vein treatments, delivering innovative treatment with minimal downtime and discomfort. We are known for excellence in vein care and for always providing the highest-quality, individualized care with the best possible outcomes for our patients.

If your varicose veins appeared during or after pregnancy, call us at 815-981-4742 to schedule a consultation or contact us right here on our website. Don’t let the debilitating pain often associated with vein disease take time away from your pregnancy or time with your children.

Family history increases risk for developing varicose veins

It’s important to know our family history for various medical issues, from cancer to vein disease.

A visit to the doctor’s office is a frequent reminder of this need-to-know information every time we have to fill out a form or confirm details with a nurse during a checkup.

Another question to ask your immediate and/or extended family members is for their history with vein disease, be that varicose veins, spider veins, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It’s common to assume these issues are just cosmetic, but vein disease is serious and will worsen over time if left untreated.

Study links varicose veins, DVT

How serious are varicose veins? A 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that among adults with the condition, there is a significantly increased risk of developing DVT, when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs.

A blood clot is a life-threatening complication, so treating varicose veins before they get worse is critical. There are real health risks associated with vein disease.

Symptoms can be debilitating

The look of varicose or spider veins can be annoying and embarrassing. They can appear as red and blue spidery lines on our legs or bulging, twisted veins that make us choose long pants over shorts or a bathing suit every time (or be grateful for added layers during the winter months).

But clothing doesn’t cover up the symptoms of vein disease, which can feel unbearable and interfere with everyday activities like sleeping, standing, and walking. The most common symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • Aching or throbbing pain in the legs
  • Slightly swollen legs, ankles or feet
  • Itchy legs
  • Hot or burning sensation in the legs
  • Heaviness in the legs or feet
  • Restless legs
  • Skin that looks discolored or thick along the legs or feet

Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. Or you can contact us anytime for a consultation, and we can determine what next steps are needed.

 Ask Your Parents

Nearly 55% of women will develop varicose veins, and 45% of men, too. That’s why it’s critical to understand your family history on both your mother’s and father’s sides. Vein disease affects both men and women.

The earlier vein disease is treated, the better, and women no longer need to wait until after they’re done having children. Vein disease can be treated between pregnancies, and we can do consultations for women in their second and third trimesters.

Men are less likely to seek treatment for vein disease. Men tend to wait on treatment and ignore the early symptoms, allowing the disease to advance. Men will seek treatment when they start experiencing the more debilitating symptoms of the disease. Vein disease affects individual lifestyle activities and quality of life. Today’s treatment is safe, with little or no downtime allowing men to get treatment without having to miss work.

One of your parents or grandparents may be reluctant or hesitant to talk about varicose veins because they were previously treated with painful vein-stripping procedures. Those are outdated treatments. At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, our founder Dr. Rimas Gilvydis performs minimally invasive sclerotherapy and endovenous laser ablation that produce minimal pain and offer little-to-no downtime.

Our team has performed more than 24,000 successful laser vein treatments. Don’t wait to schedule a consultation for varicose or spider veins. Act now to stop the progression of vein disease, which, if left untreated, can debilitate your quality of life and limit your active lifestyle.

Varicose Vein Treatment Makes Rockford Woman ‘Happy in Life Without Pain’

Varicose veins disrupted Deb Raymond’s active lifestyle until treatment through Northern Illinois Vein Clinic helped put her back on track with her goals for exercise and weight loss.

The 65-year-old Rockford resident said vein issues made her feel “absolutely miserable.” A nurse by trade, the pain, achiness, and discomfort in her legs started taking their toll about six years ago – made worse by standing for long periods on the job.

“I had trouble walking and I couldn’t exercise, which meant I couldn’t lose weight. After a certain amount of time, my legs would just hurt,” she recalled. “You could only do so much without having pain. I couldn’t enjoy vacation because walking around would hurt too much. I had no quality of life.”

She was hesitant to reach out for help at first, remembering the painful vein stripping treatment her mother went through many years ago. Deb started researching and talked to her doctor, who was supportive and helped explain how vein treatment has advanced in recent years.

Deb decided to give it a try, called Northern Illinois Vein Clinic (NIVC) for a screening, and started working with Dr. Rimas Gilvydis and his team to move forward.

She underwent minimally invasive treatment in October at NIVC. Deb said she experienced some soreness after the procedures, but she could feel improvements soon after treatment started.

“They were all super nice and Dr. Gilvydis was great,” Deb said of the NIVC team. “They were compassionate, understanding and helped me with what I needed to do.”

Her pain eventually went away, and she returned to walking on the treadmill and riding her stationary bike, which led to a weight loss of about 50 pounds.

“It’s been absolutely wonderful – my life has completely changed because of this,” Deb said. “At work, I’m able to stand and do what I need to do, and just be happy in life without pain.”

In February, she traveled to Florida for vacation, and it was the first time in a long time she was looking forward to walking on the beach.

“It’s been very helpful to change my routine, to have fun and be able to get outside. It’s just nice to do a variety of things.”

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.

Shelter In Place Has Vein Repercussions

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.

Step Up & Away

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.

Reach Out to Northern Illinois Vein Clinic For Questions!

If you’re concerned about painful, achy legs, call us at (779) 696-8346 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.

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.”

Prioritize leg vein health in the summertime heat

The increased temperatures of summer have finally hit after a rainy, cooler spring. That warmer weather is a reminder to prioritize leg vein health, especially because your legs will likely be more exposed in shorts and swimsuits.

Conditions such as heat stroke and sunburns might be more top of mind this time of year, but intense heat can worsen the pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins.

Summertime and Varicose Veins

The summer heat can intensify common varicose vein symptoms such as a burning or throbbing sensation in the legs; tired, achy or heaviness in the legs; swelling, especially as the day progresses; chronic pain similar to muscle cramps; itchiness; and skin discoloration in the areas of pain or discomfort.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, call us anytime at 779-218-8328 to request an appointment or come to one of our free vein screenings. A screening is crucial to fully understand what’s going on with your veins.

If treatment is necessary, we offer innovative, minimally invasive procedures for varicose veins that don’t require a lengthy recovery time. There’s still time to get your legs summer-ready and no need to suffer the pain and frustration of bulging, unsightly veins.

Good Vein Health Tips

In the meantime, here are some general tips that will promote good leg vein health (and help the rest of your body!) during the summer.

Remember to Hydrate

This is important all year-round but especially when spending more time outside. Heat and humidity can zap your energy quickly, so have plenty of water around – whether it’s at the beach or while working outside in the garden. This can prevent the cramping associated with dehydration that can worsen varicose vein symptoms, and staying hydrates helps with overall blood flow.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

It’s OK to indulge on some cool treats such as ice cream, but including foods such as blueberries, avocadoes and beets can improve leg vein health.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

This is good advice for protecting all of your skin and, in this case, the skin and veins just beneath the skin. Avoid direct sun exposure during midday and grab a coverup if you plan to be outside for long period  of time.

Exercise – and Relax

It’s usually easier to stay active during the summer, so make sure to maintain movement and exercise. Elevate your legs when you’re relaxing to promote better circulation in them. Remember to wear comfortable shoes during extended periods of summer activity – aka swap the flip-flops for sneakers or supportive sandals when you can.

Contact Northern Illinois Vein Clinic

With special attention to some of these steps, you’ll have more fun in the summertime and less worry about your legs. Don’t let varicose veins make you keep those shorts and swimsuits packed away. Call us at (779) 696-8346 today or reach out online to request an appointment or more information on how we can help.

Varicose Veins Disease

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins generally appear as blue, somewhat bulging “cords” that run close to the surface of your skin. Most commonly, they appear on the feet and legs. There are two main types of varicose veins: superficial and deep. Superficial varicose veins are easily visible, right beneath the surface of the skin, and are often surrounded by spider veins. Deep varicose veins are relatively rare, but can be dangerous. They occur on the interior of your body, generally not visible to the naked eye, and can lead to serious blood clots.

Typically, a medical professional will examine you to provide a clear diagnosis.

What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

For patients with varicose veins, symptoms may vary somewhat from case to case. When varicose veins are inflamed, the skin area may be tender or painful to the touch. They can also present an obstacle to healthy circulation, leading to swollen ankles, itchiness, and aching.

Deep varicose veins can also cause aching and swelling, but can also be the starting point for dangerous blood clots, an invisible symptom.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Veins contain a valve that regulates blood flow, opening to allow it to move forward and then closing to prevent movement in the wrong direction. However, varicose veins have valves that do not work correctly, allowing the blood to pool, leading to increased pressure that causes twisting and bulging.

Varicose veins are a fairly common condition, affecting close to 1 in 4 people in Illinois and the rest of the United States. One main cause is simply genetics, with many people finding it to be a family condition. Women are twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins, especially due to pregnancy. Other causes include age, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, or any condition that leads to excessive pressure on the legs or abdomen.

For those looking for information about how to prevent varicose veins, one simple way is to maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle.

What are the Options for Varicose Vein Treatment?

Patients wanting to know how to get rid of varicose veins should be pleased to hear that there are excellent options available. One option is EVLA, which involves a specialized laser treatment to shut down a vein that has become varicose. It is simple and painless, with little to no complications. Another possible treatment is sclerotherapy, which is a quick injection of a sclerosing agent to treat small spider veins.

To learn more about treatment options for your personal case, contact Northern Illinois Vein Clinic and schedule a consultation. We are well-known in Northern Illinois for providing excellent, minimally invasive treatment options for those looking for treatment for varicose veins.

Foods that Fuel Healthy Veins

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, the perfect time to celebrate the positive influence of nutrition on the body. Eating for healthy veins is easy with these simple tips.

Fight varicose veins and spider veins with smarter nutrition

“Cleaning up” your diet can reduce the pressure on your veins and even reinforce them. Adding these nutritional allies to your diet can result in healthier veins:

  • Soluble fiber helps you avoid constipation, which puts pressure on veins and can result in the development of varicose veins. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include:
    • Oats, flaxseed and barley
    • Peas and carrots
    • Apples and berries
    • Beans
    • Psyllium
  • Water is a vital nutrient for healthier veins. If you’re not drinking enough water, fiber can have the opposite effect and cause constipation. To stay optimally hydrated, limit alcohol, coffee and tea (each has a dehydrating effect on the body).
  • Flavonoids are linked to strengthened blood vessel walls. Some studies even connect flavonoids to diminishing the appearance of varicose veins. Rutin is one of the most powerful flavonoids and can be found in:
    • Cherries
    • Red grapes, blueberries, and blackberries
    • Apples, especially the skin
    • Apricots
    • Buckwheat

Foods that fuel healthy veins

These foods are naturally designed to help you keep varicose veins and spider veins at bay:

  • Blueberries are packed with flavonoid pigments, and they’re a great source of soluble fiber. These power berries help repair damaged proteins in blood vessel walls and promote vascular health.
  • Avocados contain vein-friendly vitamin C and vitamin E. They’re also high in glutathione, which guards the heart, veins, and arteries against oxidant damage.
  • Rosemary stimulates circulation and contains ursolic acid, which strengthens the capillaries.
  • Fresh ginger is capable of improving circulation by dissolving the blood-clotting protein, fibrin, in blood vessels.
  • Beets are rich in betacyanin, the phytochemical compound responsible for their color. Betacyanin is known to decrease levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage blood vessels (leading to varicose veins).
  • Asparagus strengthens veins and capillaries and can prevent them from rupturing.

Eating healthy is always a good idea, but diet may not be enough to fully eliminate varicose veins or spider veins. Left untreated, these problems can lead to ulcers or other painful complications.

At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic in Rockford, Dr. Rimas Gilvydis, a diplomat of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, uses advanced diagnostic and minimally invasive technologies to treat venous disease. And with little to no downtime, you can return to a more active routine faster.

compression therapy

Compression Therapy

Varicose veins are a common problem that affects millions of people around the world. If you are one of them, you know all too well that varicose veins are more than just cosmetic nuisances. The symptoms these faulty veins cause can include achiness, fatigue and cramping. Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT) and sclerotherapy are common varicose veins treatments for these unsightly, bulging veins, but other therapies like compression therapy may also provide relief.

If severe, therapy could be an option, but to understand how compression therapy works, it’s helpful to understand what varicose veins are and what causes them.

What are Varicose Veins?

Unlike arteries, veins have to rely on a one-way valve system to keep blood flowing in one direction: back toward the heart. In people with varicose veins, the walls of the veins have lost their flexibility, weakening the one-way valves and causing them not to work correctly. When this happens, blood is allowed to flow backward through the valve and collect or pool behind it.

As the blood collects, it remains stagnant allowing it to coagulate or thicken. The vein begins to enlarge as more blood accumulates. This usually happens in several valves along the course of the vein, giving it a characteristic bumpy and twisted look. Because the blood coagulates, the vein takes on a deep bluish-purple color, making it very noticeable through the skin.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can have many causes including:

• Not moving for long periods of time in any position (sitting, standing or laying).
• Obesity
• Excessive Weight Gain
• History of Leg Injury or Surgery
• Aging (which causes a loss of elasticity in the vein walls)
• Pregnancy

It may seem that just about anything can cause varicose veins, but thankfully there are treatments available, such as EVLT and sclerotherapy.

Compression Therapy for Varicose Veins Treatment

Compression therapy is another varicose vein treatment that can help alleviate symptoms. It involves wearing a stocking that provides support to the leg, improving circulation and preventing excess fluid from accumulating in the limb. It aids the veins in fighting gravity, making it easier for them to get blood and fluid back to the heart. Although not a cure, compression therapy can help alleviate the pain and fatigue varicose veins can cause.

If you have varicose veins or think you might be at risk for developing them, contact Northern Illinois Vein Clinic to schedule your appointment today.