Standing Tall

Compression device relieves surgeon’s chronic leg swelling.

Jason Kapnick, MD, is an oncologic surgeon specializing in cancers of female genital and reproductive organs. As part of his work, Dr. Kapnick spends hours standing in the operating room tending to his patients.

Jason Kapnick, MD

Six years ago, Dr. Kapnick’s incessant standing resulted in the development of venous insufficiency, a condition that causes the one-way valves in leg veins to fail. Because of this failure, blood cannot efficiently flow upward toward the heart, so it pools in the lower legs and causes swelling, or lymphedema.

“Lymphedema is the general term for any significant, abnormal swelling in the legs or arms,” Dr. Kapnick explains. “My legs were so swollen that my ankles were unrecognizable as ankles, and you could barely make out where my knees were from the rest of my lower legs.

“When I walked, it felt like I had two dead weights on my feet, like I was wearing ankle weights. It was extremely fatiguing and painful when I was upright. Eventually, an ulcer formed on my left leg. At that point, I sought care. I went to a doctor with special expertise in bad veins. Initially, he cared for the ulcers that formed one after another on my legs. At the same time, I was using compression stockings to try to reduce the swelling.”

In addition to caring for Dr. Kapnick’s wounds, the doctor treated his venous insufficiency and leg swelling using several surgical and minimally invasive vein procedures, including vein stripping and ablation. To further decrease swelling, Dr. Kapnick was instructed to elevate his legs and take diuretics, or water pills, to help remove excess fluid from his system.

“I went through the gamut of therapies, but they all failed,” Dr. Kapnick relates. “Once I got the compression pumps from Acute Wound Care, it was like night and day.”

Rhythmic Pattern

Acute Wound Care is a fully accredited home medical equipment provider specializing in hospital-grade compression devices and specialty wound-care dressings. The compression pumps, approved by most insurers, are designed to remove fluid that has accumulated in the legs or arms.

“The pump’s limb-sized sleeves gently massage the limb, draining any excess fluid back into the body’s circulatory system so it can be naturally eliminated,” explains Tom Snyder, certified compression therapist with Acute Wound Care. “This alleviates swelling and many painful symptoms.

“The pumps are highly effective and noninvasive, and for the legs, they are much easier to use than compression stockings. Patients generally use the pump twice a day for 45 minutes, usually in the morning and evening. While using the pump, patients simply sit back with their limbs raised to further assist with decreasing swelling.”

The sleeves of the compression pump contain multiple chambers. During treatment, each chamber fills with air. Then, each chamber releases, and the pattern repeats in a rhythmic fashion, forcing any excess fluid out of the limbs.

The safe and painless pumps not only reduce fluid retention in the limbs, they also improve overall blood flow.

“The pump boosts circulation by contracting the leg muscles, assisting blood flow back toward the heart,” Tom describes. “Results are often apparent immediately. Many patients see a noticeable difference in the swelling and in the size of their limbs after their first 45- minute pumping session.”

“The pump has become a part of my life that doesn’t interfere with anything.” – Dr. Kapnick

The compression pumps can also be used to heal the chronic wounds and ulcers that often come with venous insufficiency. The pumps assist in the wound healing by circulating the healing factors in the blood.

“The pump’s sleeves are reusable and can be washed off with a damp cloth,” Tom notes. “If patients have open wounds, they can use the pump as long as the wounds are covered.”
Acute Wound Care is proud of its hands-on approach. Not only does a compression therapist go to each patient’s home to set up the equipment and instruct them on how to use and care for it, they also adjust the pump’s pressure level to the patient’s comfort.

“When we are in the patient’s home, we set the pressure based on the severity of the condition and the physician’s prescription,” Tom informs. “We then adjust the pump so the patients are comfortable and will actually meet the requirements of the treatment, so they get great results.”

Memorable Correspondence

In practice for more than 25 years, Dr. Kapnick spends one day a week seeing patients at MD Anderson Cancer Institute’s Ascension Sacred Heart Cancer Center in Pensacola and the rest of the week seeing patients at his practice in Palm Beach.

“MD Anderson Cancer Institute has been voted the best cancer center in the country 10 years in a row, and I’m a fully affiliated surgeon,” Dr. Kapnick shares. “I sometimes see as many as 100 patients on the days I’m at the Pensacola center.”

Dr. Kapnick says he entered the surgical specialty because he saw a need for physicians who “just took care of women with cancer versus general obstetrics and gynecology,” which is where the field of women’s care was at the time. This was in the late 1970s.

“The population I serve is younger than, for example, colon cancer patients, so my patients are generally young women, often with children, who are in the prime of life. My work earns me Christmas cards I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

Middle-Aged Ankles

As soon as Acute Wound Care received Dr. Kapnick’s prescription, a compression therapist contacted him to answer any questions. The therapist then delivered the compression pump and set it up. Like many patients, Dr. Kapnick saw dramatic results right away.

“I used my compression pump an hour a day, and it took my swelling right down,” he says. “Now, the pain and heaviness in my legs are gone. I could jog right now. And my ankles look like relatively normal, middle-aged men’s ankles. That remains the case as long as I’m faithful in using the pump.”

Dr. Kapnick reports that he was able to adjust his treatment regimen with the compression pump over time.

“While using the pump an hour a day every day was cumbersome at first, I don’t have to do that anymore,” he asserts. “At present, I only use it once a day three times a week. Of course, that’s after I went through all those failed therapies. But bottom line, the pump has become a part of my life that doesn’t interfere with anything.”

Dr. Kapnick notes that Acute Wound Care’s compression pumps are useful for many cancer patients as well.

“Millions of men have prostate cancer and millions of women have genital cancers, such as cancer of the vagina or vulva,” the doctor educates. “Treatment of these cancers usually includes surgery and radiation, which can cause swelling in the legs.

“The swelling occurs because the surgery and radiation are applied to the groin and freeze up the groin, which is where the veins are headed. As a result, the veins become blocked. It’s like being on the freeway and a toll booth slows down traffic. With blocked veins in the groin, swelling develops in the legs.

“I strongly recommend Acute Wound Care’s compression pumps to cancer patients and patients with any condition that causes leg swelling, including diabetes, heart trouble and especially congestive heart failure, where the heart doesn’t pump well and fluid builds up.”

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    • Acute Wound Care

      Acute Wound Care is conveniently located in the heart of Bonita Springs and has been serving wound care, lymphedema and venous insufficiency patients in the Southwestern part of Florida for many years. Their team has more than 25 years of exper... Read More