Gina Long MBE talks to Mr. Michael Gaunt Consultant Vascular Surgeon.
Internationally recognised, he has worked for 20 years in East Anglia, offering a wealth of vascular expertise, specialising in treatments for varicose veins, venous ulcers, DVT and facial thread veins. His medical research and published papers are highly regarded.
Q: Tell us why you live here and nowhere else.
My childhood was spent following my military father and by the age of 14 I had attended nine different schools. That’s probably why I’m so passionate about my home and enjoy the county so much. We’ve been in this area since 2000 and I love the fact that my daughters have been able to grow up in such a beautiful part of the country, with great education on the doorstep and the chance for all of us to foster lasting friendships.
Q: What is your connection to East Anglia?
East Anglia is very much in my blood now, I feel rooted and happy here. My key clinics and operating lists are in Suffolk, Cambridge and Norfolk and it’s a pleasure to work in such a beautiful county.
Q: What is your East Anglian Heaven i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?
If I’m honest I love the openness, the big skies and rural landscapes. It’s the combination of the unspoilt countryside, historic buildings and, in particular, the East Anglian coastline with its wonderful seaside towns and beaches.
Q: What is your East Anglian Hell i.e. what do you hate most about living here?
That’s an easy one – the traffic! I’m sure I’m not the only one to say sitting in a traffic jam on the A14 is my idea of Hell.
Q: What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
Multi award-winning Maison Bleue, Bury St Edmunds.
Q: What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
Sitting on the lawn at King’s College, Cambridge on a summer evening, listening to the King’s Men singing from punts on the River Cam as the sun sets.
Q: What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
Norwich Cathedral, it never fails to impress. It’s a national treasure.
Q: What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?
Bury St Edmund’s Christmas Market; I love the community spirit and festive atmosphere.
Q: What is your specialist Mastermind subject?
The History of Vascular Surgery.
Q: What is always in your fridge?
Champagne and coconut yoghurt.
Q: What’s your simple philosophy of life?
Treat everyone as you would wish to be treated. Whether I am treating medical conditions such as varicose veins, infected venous ulcers, DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or cosmetic conditions such as unsightly thread veins, spider veins, red veins and facial veins, I always strive to do my best for the patient.
Q: What’s your favourite film?
The Verdict, starring Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling and James Mason.
Q: Who do you admire most?
Baron Robert Kilpatrick of Kincraig – teacher, mentor and the Dean of my medical school. He took a chance on giving me a place at medical school – I hope I’ve repaid that trust.
Q: What is your biggest indulgence?
My TESLA car.
Q: What do you like about yourself most?
I never give up.
Q: What’s your worst character trait?
I never give up.
Q: Best day of your life?
My wedding day to my wife of 30 years, Ann.
Q: Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I once beat Steve Cram in a schoolboy race when I was 15.
Q: What do you want to tell our readers about most?
Varicose veins should not be ignored, as sooner or later they will cause problems. Good vascular care is a significant factor in our wellbeing and health. Taking time to keep healthy and active should also go hand in hand with recognising symptoms of varicose veins. As varicose veins develop they may, in the long term, affect mobility, causing chronic pain and discomfort.
I am proud to offer a wealth of expertise and the latest technology with excellent patient care and individually tailored treatment options. The latest minimally invasive treatments can be performed under local anaesthetic as a walk-in, walk-out procedure, with minimal postoperative discomfort and less impact on your lifestyle. I am one of the most experienced surgeons in the UK, using the minimally invasive Endovenous Laser and ClariVein techniques. I also offer VeinWave treatment for unsightly facial thread veins and spider veins.
If you would like to explore treatment options please call 01223 305858
“I have just successfully completed the John O’Groats to Land’s End cycle ride – 1060 miles in 9 days – absolutely unthinkable prior to the popliteal entrapment syndrome op! So – once again – many, many thanks!!”
In February 2010 David Hall was treated by Mr Gaunt to correct popliteal entrapment syndrome, he has since gone on to complete one of the most respected & challenging cycle rides, John O’Groats to Land’s End, 1060 miles in just 9 days.
“I think the thing that worried me was that I thought I would be ‘out of action’ for several weeks – but this was not the case and the very next day I was walking my dogs a good 40 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. I also had no pain and never needed to take a pain killer.”
“I had surgery under general anaesthetic and it was really straightforward”
“In very good and friendly hands!”
“Ian rowed for the US team and Cambridge, when he developed varicose veins.”
Varicose veins run in my family. I’ve got two uncles who had the surgery at relatively early ages. But I assumed that varicose veins came from sitting around or that older people or pregnant women got them.
Then about eight years ago, I noticed some stinging on the inside of one of my ankles and what looked like a permanent bruise.
I was told I had varicose veins and advised to wear compression socks during the day. But the stinging got progressively worse and by the end of the day, my ankles would be throbbing – even after wearing the compression socks.
About six months ago, I decided I had to get something done. I went to my GP who referred me to Michael Gaunt.
He did a scan and explained that he’d use VNUS Closure on the larger veins and avulse the smaller veins on my calves and ankles. I had surgery under general anaesthetic and it was really straightforward.
I was up and walking within a couple of hours and on my first day home, I walked for about a mile.
The bruising was fairly extensive, but not worrisome and settled down pretty quickly, as did the pain. The time from surgery to feeling comfortable walking was less than a week.
The impressive thing is that the scarring is minimal. When I tell people I’ve had surgery in the last three months, they are like “where are the scars?” There are just these tiny pin pricks.
But the biggest difference for me is going from living with chronic pain to being without it – that was huge. I kinda kick myself that I didn’t have surgery sooner.
“It has been the best money I have ever spent.”
I suffered deep vein thrombosis in my early 20s which damaged the valves of my left leg. While not medically ill, I couldn’t stand for prolonged periods and undertaking sport of any kind was difficult and uncomfortable. I was faced with the prospect of spending the rest of my adult life in surgical stockings.
I did not have unsightly veins and did not qualify under the NHS guidelines for treatment for any medical reasons resulting from my damaged valves.
I had always been under the impression that laser treatment was only for cosmetic reasons – to treat unsightly varicose veins. It did not occur to me, nor was it pointed out, that laser surgery might well work for me.
It was some 18 years after my DVT that a GP suggested laser treatment might help after he attended a lecture from Michael Gaunt.
I had the treatment two years ago and haven’t looked back since. It has been the best money I have ever spent.
When I had the treatment done privately at the Spire, I had not anticipated the far-reaching effects it would have on my lifestyle.
Having barely been able to run for a bus pre-operation, I took up running shortly afterwards. My first challenge was small – to enter the Chariots of Fire race in Cambridge, which is a 1.7 mile relay. I completed that nine months after surgery. In the following year, I ran three separate 10k races and the Chariots of Fire race again.
This year, my challenge is to complete my first half marathon in November – something I would have laughed at if anyone had suggested this before my treatment.
Mr Gaunt was extremely professional, yet down to earth. He described the procedure in layman’s terms, likening my veins to pouring wine from a bottle, I recall.
The operation itself was done under local anaesthetic but was relatively painless. The relaxed atmosphere and banter between the anaesthetist and Mr Gaunt put me at ease and made the operation fly by..
I would highly recommend anyone suffering problems – be they cosmetic or physical – as a result of damaged veins to talk through the options with Mr Gaunt. The improvement to my health and fitness has been phenomenal and is difficult to put into words. My only regret is not having known about or having had the operation sooner.
Congratulations to Alison who completed the London Marathon in 2011.
“A few weeks later it was impossible to tell I had ever had varicose veins”
“I first noticed the appearance of varicose veins about ten years ago and sought the advice of a surgeon then. The most usual treatment at the time was to have the veins ‘stripped’. This took place under general anaesthetic and had quite a lengthy recovery period as I recall. Having been lucky enough never to have been in hospital before or had any type of medical procedure I baulked at the idea of this operation and as I was experiencing no pain associated with the veins I decided not to go ahead.
However over the next ten years the appearance of the veins worsened, in particular one that ran over my left knee and I became quite self-conscious about my legs. In addition I was also developing ‘spider veins’ on both legs. My husband and I spend the summer months in Spain where we enjoy sailing and I like to play golf, but I was feeling less comfortable wearing the skirts and shorts associated with these pastimes. I vowed to do something about it.
I Googled the condition and read about laser treatment. Then early this year quite by chance I read an article about Michael Gaunt in Suffolk Business magazine and realised that with the treatment available on my doorstep there was nothing to stop me.
I booked a consultation as soon as possible and Mr Gaunt explained to me and my husband exactly what the various procedures involve, how quickly you can be up and running again along with the duration of the operation and exactly what to expect. Which for me, as a first time patient, was very reassuring.
I chose to have laser treatment which was carried out under local anaesthetic and I could have the procedure to both legs at the same time. There was very little discomfort during the operation and Mr Gaunt and his great team at BMI in Bury St Edmunds made the hour or so pass very quickly with their (very bad) joke telling. I had gone to the hospital first thing that morning and was back home by mid-afternoon. I wore compression bandages for a couple of days and then full length surgical socks for two weeks.
The improvement in appearance was immediate with just a little bruising and a few weeks later it was impossible to tell I had ever had varicose veins. Last month I went back to see Mr Gaunt to have injections to get rid of the ‘spider veins’. These too have completely faded and for the first time in years I have a ‘near perfect’ set of pins!! I have lived in short skirts and shorts all this summer. In fact I am wearing shorts as I write this.
I highly recommend Mr Gaunt and the treatments he provides, it has been a life changing experience for me, one of the best things I’ve done in years.”