Wednesday, February 19, 2020

One Chef's Perspective

Joshua B. is a chef. Years in the restaurant business have kept him on his feet for extended periods of time, which— combined with a family history of varicose veins— was a recipe for unhealthy legs. 

“I started getting varicose veins in high school, but as unsightly as they were, they never really bothered me,” said Joshua.

As the New Hampshire native got older, his veins got worse. They continued to get bigger and stay swollen for longer periods of time. Even crawling on the floor with his young kids was hard because of the varicose veins on his knees. But the self-proclaimed “tough guy” continued to live with the discomfort. When he was about 27 years old, however, he started to experience undeniable medical issues.

The skin covering Joshua’s veins gradually got thinner and thinner, especially on the insides of his ankles. Eventually the skin got so thin on the inside of his right ankle that it ruptured and began spraying blood “like a squirt gun coming out of the side of his foot,” as Joshua described it.

“It was scary. I didn’t know what to do, so I rushed to the emergency room where they gave me a Novocaine injection and stitches that stayed in for a week,” he said.

That was the first emergency. Ten months later another bleeder opened up higher up on Joshua’s right leg. He finally began to take the problem seriously
and went to two different doctors for treatment.

One physician encouraged vein stripping. The other physician advised against it but offered no alternatives. Joshua was confused: “I never really had a clear path of what to do.”

Finally, Joshua found his way to the Vein Healthcare Center. An ultrasound revealed the source of the problem, and Joshua worked with Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen on a treatment plan. He proceeded to have endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) on his right leg first, followed by his left leg two months later. Dr. Asbjornsen followed both EVLA procedures with sclerotherapy. As Joshua put it, the EVLA “dams up the river,” and then the sclerotherapy gets rid of the other streams leading up to it.

Joshua was nervous before the procedures, but found that it was a lot easier than he expected. Although his goal was to restore healthy venous return
in his legs, he’s been surprised by how much more comfortable and confident he feels.

“I’m not as apprehensive about wearing shorts and showing off my legs now, because before they were gnarly and bumpy,” he said. “They’re not Tom Brady’s legs yet, but they look much better than they did.”

Overall, the experience has been an educational one for Joshua. Once he really understood what varicose veins were and what his specific problem was, he couldn’t wait to fix it. In fact, he wishes a vein exam could be part of every general physical.

“It’s a quick thing to look at someone’s legs to see if there are varicosities. There are a lot of possible treatments, and the earlier you start the better off you are.”

Click here to read more about real patients' experiences with vein disease and treatment. If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact us at the Vein Healthcare Center!

Monday, January 20, 2020

10 Tips To Make Your Legs Feel Better

If your legs feel achy or tired, it may be a venous issue. Best to check with a vein specialist for a thorough evaluation. (See tip #10 below!)

In the meantime, there are things you can do to alleviate your discomfort and perhaps even prevent your symptoms from progressing:

1. Elevate. Elevate your legs above your heart as often as possible -- for as long as 30 minutes or as briefly as three minutes. The best time is after you have been standing or after a hot shower.

2. Wear loose-fitting clothing. Avoid tight-fitting clothes around your legs and waist. It will help by not impeding circulation in your lower body.

3. Avoid high heels. High-heeled shoes shorten the muscles in the back of your leg and prevent deep veins from operating at their full capacity.

4. Sit properly. Focus on good posture and avoid crossing your legs  or sitting in ways that can compress veins for prolonged periods.

5. Walk. Walking causes the rhythmic contraction of calf muscles and helps promote blood flow to the heart. Walk at least 30 minutes every day – all at once, or in shorter increments.

6. Take a break. Take frequent walking breaks to avoid sitting or standing for periods of more than two hours.

7. Wear compression stockings. Wearing compression stockings purchased from your pharmacy will help promote the flow of blood when you are flying, on your feet for long periods, or carrying heavy loads.

8. Don’t smoke. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke constricts veins and affects overall circulation.

9. Know your history. Women with a family history of vein disorders, or those who have relatives with varicose veins, should wear compression stockings during menarche and menopause, and during pregnancy – most importantly, during the first trimester.

10. See a vein specialist. Contact a board certified phlebologist for a screening and evaluation, or to find out more about risks, prevention, and treatment of venous disease.

To make an appointment with Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen, founder of the Vein Healthcare Center, click here or call 207-221-7799. We can help make your legs feel better!