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Albert Vein Institute: Advances In Varicose Vein Care
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Advances In Varicose Vein Care

October 11, 2018

Advances In Varicose Vein Care

Current healthcare patients live in a unique time of unprecedented levels of medical advances that affect so many healthcare fields. Decreased invasiveness of procedures has paved the way for patients to experience less pain, shorter recovery time, lower infection rates, and so much more. Phlebology (the treatment of varicose veins) has dramatically improved in the last 25 years thanks to a variety of subspecialty advancements.

There has been a welcome advance away from the past days of hospital-based vein stripping with today’s minimally invasive vein care. During vein stripping, a surgeon uses a wire attached to the vein where it joins the deep veins and then pulls it near the middle of the calf.

Vein stripping also requires general anesthesia. Usually needed for more major surgeries, general anesthesia comes with risks and less invasive models should be used when available. Vein stripping and its required use of general anesthesia is now obsolete unless there is a particular medical reason a patient cannot be a candidate for minimally invasive vein care in an outpatient setting. Today’s techniques for treating varicose veins involve endovenous (inside the vein) ablation using laser or radiofrequency technology with no general anesthesia and only minimal medication is administered to provide comfort during the procedure.

Today’s minimally invasive treatments will usually only require the use of compression stockings under the supervision of your vein care physician and periodic follow-up appointments scheduled at your convenience.  Furthermore, minimally invasive endovenous procedures only require tiny incisions, whereas vein stripping requires larger incisions (closed up by stitches) that might leave behind scars.

Please note: Patients who are not satisfied with the results of previous vein stripping might still be a candidate for improvement with today’s minimally invasive endovenous techniques.

If you are considering having your varicose veins evaluated – make sure to research all providers before undergoing treatment, as all physicians have various medical and surgical backgrounds. There are even non-physicians performing minimally invasive vein care. At best, look for a board-certified physician or surgeon who practices in an accredited vein care facility.

Dr. James D. Albert, RPVI is the Founder and Practicing Physician of Albert Vein Institute (AVI)–Colorado’s Vein Specialist – founded in 2006. A nationally respected Phlebologist, Dr. Albert has led AVI to become Colorado’s ONLY nationally recognized IAC ACCREDITED VEIN CENTER. Dr. Albert trained at the nation’s most reputable medical institutions, holds double Board Certifications in Cardiovascular Surgery and Phlebology, and is humbled to bring 30 years of a successful surgical career to patients needing vein care.

Posted in Blog, Doctor's Quarterly, Featured by Jen Johnson
July 30, 2018

From Colorado’s Vein Expert: Answering common questions patients ask about veins

One common question asked at Albert Vein Institute (AVI) by our patients is “Don’t I need my saphenous vein?” The function of the saphenous vein is to protect the skin veins from the mildly increased pressure in the deep veins. Unfortunately family history, pregnancy, excessive standing, and advanced age cause the saphenous vein to deteriorate. The saphenous vein is like your appendix in the sense that if it is not functioning properly then you do not need it anymore.  Most varicose vein procedures involve endovenous ablation in order to gently destroy the saphenous vein.

 

98% of the blood returning to the heart from your legs does so through other leg veins in the deep system – so if the saphenous vein is not functioning properly, and left untreated, the venous circulation in the legs is less efficient and can lead to bigger problems. By not treating the diseased saphenous vein, you can develop uncomfortable symptoms like pain, swelling, skin changes, and non-healing wounds on your leg.

 

Patients also ask, “What happens if I need a vein for heart surgery down the road?” As AVI’s practicing physician, as well as a double Board Certified Cardiovascular Surgeon and Phlebologist who practiced heart surgery for more than 20 years, I would never destroy a vein that could functionally be used for coronary bypass surgery. If you are having your saphenous vein treated to resolve your varicose vein problems, then this same vein would be too diseased to use for heart surgery anyway. I frequently identify that the saphenous vein in patients with superficial venous insufficiency is not usable for coronary bypass.  Furthermore, there are other vessels that can be used if the saphenous vein is diseased or has previously been treated.

 

In fact, patients who have had their saphenous vein harvested for coronary bypass surgery can still have problems with varicose veins. This difficulty can occur because only part of the saphenous vein was removed for heart surgery, while the remaining part of the vessel goes on to become diseased.

Author: Dr. James D. Albert, RPVI

Posted in Blog, Doctor's Quarterly, Featured by Jen Johnson
July 30, 2018

From Colorado’s Vein Expert: Debunking Falsehoods of Vein Disease

Varicose Veins are Only a Cosmetic Issue

Many people, even physicians, believe that varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue and don’t need to be addressed medically.  However, if you have symptomatic varicose veins (pain, heaviness, swelling, itching, restlessness) there is a deeper medical problem.  If left untreated, more serious health problems can arise like permanent skin changes, ulcerations, and increased risk of a deep venous thrombosis (DVT).

My Insurance Won’t Pay for My Varicose Veins

If you have symptomatic varicose veins as listed above, then many insurance carriers will cover the treatment of your varicose veins.  Most insurance carriers do have a set of requirements that patients must meet before a procedure can be performed.

**Each insurance carrier and plan are different, so verification of benefits is recommended.

Compression Stockings Will Treat My Varicose Veins

Medical compression stockings have long been a main stay in the treatment of varicose veins, however they do not actually treat them.  Compression stockings will provide relief to the symptoms that are caused by varicose veins, but they will not make the veins themselves go away or the symptoms.  To treat varicose veins, the source of the problem must be corrected by closing the saphenous veins.  To determine if your saphenous veins are working properly, a non-invasive ultrasound is performed and read by a qualified physician to finalize your treatment plan.

I’ve Had a DVT (Blood Clot) and I Can’t Treat My Varicose Veins

Many patients with varicose veins have had DVTs in the past and are able to be successfully treated today for their varicose veins.  An initial ultrasound will be performed and further testing may be ordered to give a clear picture of your leg before proceeding with treatment.   Also, patients can be treated while on blood thinners for maximum safety.

I Will Have to Miss Weeks of Work to Have My Varicose Veins Treated

Unlike vein stripping of the past which could cause extended absences, many patients today only miss 1-2 days of work after their vein procedures.  In fact, most patients go back to work the very next day.  Patients are even encouraged to maintain most work out routines during treatment.

Posted in Blog, Doctor's Quarterly, Featured by Jen Johnson
July 30, 2018

From Colorado’s Vein Expert: You Have A Personal Choice When It Comes to Treating Varicose and Spider Veins

In today’s environment of aggressive Internet marketing, patients are frequently presented with conflicting information about the health risks of varicose veins (VV) and spider veins (SV).  It is important for patients to understand that VV are not “silent killers.”

“Free vein screenings” might be a marketing gimmick to get patients in the door, but without symptoms there is rarely anything an evaluation would discover that would require intervention. Even worse is the use of inaccurate threats stating “patients who do not get evaluated for VV are at risk for developing DVT and ulcers.”  Patients should only seek care for varicose or spider veins if they are experiencing aching, burning, itching, heavy legs or ankle swelling.

Older patients may naturally have superficial venous valve leakage (reflux), but it is often clinically insignificant. Patients should only be treated if they have significant symptoms. Patients should never be coerced to think that without treatment they will experience serious negative health outcomes.

If one thinks they have vein disease, choosing where to go is important. The differences between provider skill-set and facility qualifications could lead to vastly different long-term outcomes. Typically, physicians who practice Phlebology come from different backgrounds. So how does a patient decide where to have their veins evaluated?

Choose a physician who is dedicated to treating venous disease.  Physicians who practice Phlebology only part-time may have conflicting responsibilities, often resulting in scheduling disruptions and inability to thoroughly address patient concerns.

Choose a Physician that has micro-surgical experience. Choosing a physician with micro-surgical vascular experience is imperative, as removal of VV through micro-incisions is an integral part of complete venous care.

Choose an Accredited Facility. Most importantly, facility accreditation guarantees a practice provides maximum safety and proven treatments.  Vascular ultrasound laboratory accreditation (Vascular Testing) is frequently misrepresented as “facility” accreditation. While an IAC Accreditation in Vascular Testing is an important prerequisite, the highest accreditation a vein practice can achieve is the national IAC Accreditation in VEIN CENTER.

AUTHOR: James D Albert, M.D., RPVI of Albert Vein Institute

 

Posted in Blog, Doctor's Quarterly, Featured by Jen Johnson