A Human Touch

Expertise dispensed with courtesy and kindnes.

Augusto Odio was 12 years old in 1968 when he, his parents and sister fled communist Cuba, seeking freedom in the United States. To young Augusto, the US was “paradise.”

Part of living in paradise for Augusto was the opportunity to work a job of his choosing. When he became old enough, he began a career in pest control. After many years on the job, which included traveling from assignment to assignment in a company van, Augusto noticed changes in his body that concerned him.

“I spent many hours sitting and driving, and eventually, my legs started swelling and varicose veins started showing,” Augusto relates. “My legs were getting heavy as well, and they looked bad. They were ugly. I’m very conscious of my appearance, and I wasn’t comfortable with the way my legs looked when I wore shorts or went to the beach.

“The condition progressed, and my legs became painful, as well as swollen and tired. I had cramps in my legs at night, so I had trouble sleeping. My mother suffered from the same condition, and I didn’t want mine to get any worse.

“I went to a vein doctor in Miami who tried to correct the problem by cauterizing the veins with a laser, but he was inexperienced, and it was very painful, so I told him to stop. He told me my situation wasn’t a common, everyday case and that I needed another type of surgery. That was a bad experience, so I quit trying to treat my varicose veins.”

After the physician in Miami failed, Augusto was discouraged. He later moved to Homosassa, where his hope for a resolution to his leg problem was renewed after he read an article in Florida Health Care News about Ravi Sharma, MD.

Dr. Sharma is a board-certified cardiovascular surgeon with expertise in blood vessel disorders affecting the legs. His practice is Premier Vein Centers, which has offices in Homosassa and The Villages.

As a longtime cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Sharma spent many years working with the intricate blood vessels surrounding the heart. He now focuses his practice full-time on treating patients with venous disease of the legs.

“When I read the article, I thought, Dr. Sharma has very good credentials, so I asked a few people about him,” Augusto states. “They all gave him a good report and I live near their Homosassa office, so I stopped in one day and asked for some information. Then I decided to give Dr. Sharma a try.

“When I met Dr. Sharma, he was very professional and kind. He was very concerned about my health and treatment. He explained everything that was going on with my legs and why they were swelling. He said the problem was venous insufficiency.”

Crucial Qualifications

An intricate series of blood vessels makes up the human circulatory system. Veins are the vessels that return oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. There are three types of veins: superficial veins, deep veins and perforator veins. Superficial veins lie close to the skin, deep veins lie in groups of muscles, and perforator veins connect the superficial veins to the deep veins.

“When the leg veins cannot pump blood back to the heart, it is a condition called venous insufficiency,” Dr. Sharma informs. “Chronic venous insufficiency has multiple causes. Over long periods of sitting or standing, the blood in leg veins can pool. This increases the venous blood pressure and weakens the vein walls and valves, thereby damaging the valves. Damaged valves prevent proper blood flow back to the heart.”

Venous insufficiency has many signs and symptoms. Signs are the issues that can be seen, such as bulging varicose veins, swelling, and thickening and discoloration of the skin of the ankles or legs. Symptoms are those things that are felt, not seen. They include throbbing, aching, stinging, burning, itching, nighttime leg cramps and restless legs. These are all indications that the veins are not functioning properly.

“For patients who experience any of these signs or symptoms, it is important that they have their veins assessed,” Dr. Sharma emphasizes. “Leaving the condition untreated can lead to more serious difficulties, including leg ulcers, infection and a breakdown of the skin.

“When seeking a physician for care, it is crucially important for people to choose surgeons who specialize in venous diseases. The physicians should also be experienced in the advanced procedures available to treat these diseases. In addition, they must also express genuine concern and compassion for their patients. Physicians with these qualifications achieve the best outcomes.”

Decreased Downtime

At Premier Vein Centers, a full range of advanced, minimally invasive treatment options for addressing varicose and spider veins is available. These treatment options include microphlebectomy, endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), sclerosing injections and the new, non-thermal procedure, VenaSeal.

Microphlebectomy has replaced stripping, an outdated, more invasive procedure during which doctors removed the large veins by making big gashes across the leg that often left the patient with large scars.

“With microphlebectomy, the incision is tiny – about the size of the tip of a scalpel – and we can do much more through that small incision,” Dr. Sharma assures. “And with this procedure, patients end up with tiny marks on the skin or no scars at all.”
During EVLA, a sterile laser fiber is introduced into the incompetent vein via a small puncture in the leg. Laser energy is then delivered through the fiber, painlessly closing the vein in less than an hour, using local anesthesia.

Sclerosing injections are used to treat spider veins, which are tiny, dilated blood vessels in the skin that become swollen with stagnant blood.

Dr. Sharma uses ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (UGS) to guide the injections that gently close the problem vessels.
VenaSeal is a non-thermal closure system that relieves symptoms by delivering a small amount of a specially formulated medical adhesive, or “super glue,” to the diseased vein. This permanently seals the vein. This procedure does not require multiple needle sticks and, in some cases, support stockings are not necessary.

Dr. Sharma uses his expertise to determine which procedures to use based on each patient’s symptoms and health status. These advanced treatments are all performed in a comfortable office setting and result in little or no downtime and discomfort.

“Our patients are often very relieved to discover that there is no general anesthesia involved in our minimally invasive treatments,” Dr. Sharma observes. “And they are happy to learn that they can resume activities right away.”
Premier Vein Centers provides a free initial consultation and accepts most insurance, including Medicare.

Rewarding Treatment

After evaluating Augusto’s leg veins, Dr. Sharma concluded which minimally invasive procedures were most valuable for treating the retired pest avenger’s venous insufficiency. Microphlebectomy and EVLA were the procedures the doctor chose.

“Dr. Sharma explained the procedures he recommended for me, going through the process for each one of them step by step,” Augusto reports. “He took his time, making sure I understood what was going to happen and what I should expect for an outcome.

“During those procedures, Dr. Sharma sealed most of my varicose veins with a laser, but he literally removed some of the bigger, thicker veins that were on my lower legs. There was a small amount of discomfort involved, but that was nothing considering the results I achieved.

“My legs are not as heavy as they were before and the varicose veins are gone, so my legs are looking much better. Since Dr. Sharma’s vein treatment, the swelling in my legs is gone, and I have no pain. I’m sleeping better and feeling stronger.”
Augusto isn’t just happy with the results of his treatment. He’s also happy he found Dr. Sharma. He says the personalized care he received from Dr. Sharma and his staff is beyond anything he’s experienced from a doctor before.

“I’m pleased with the staff at Premier Vein Centers, the nurses and clerks, and with Dr. Sharma especially,” he says. “I’m very glad I met him and was able to go through his vein treatment process because I feel significant improvement.

“I’m much happier since my treatment. If I had to make a choice, I would do it all over again. I recommend Dr. Sharma’s vein treatment to anyone who may be feeling heavy, painful legs with cramps or swelling because the treatment is very rewarding.
“I’m thankful to Dr. Sharma and his crew, and I very strongly recommend them as professionals. I had a very good experience at Premier Vein Centers.”

Print This Article
    • Premier Vein Centers

      Many people inherit vein disorders. The incidence is higher in women than men. In the United States, nearly 50 percent of the adult population suffers from painful and unsightly vein diseases. The most common forms are spider veins and va... Read More

    • Ravi Sharma, MD

      Ravi Sharma, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland at College Park and attended the University of Maryland Graduate School, Baltimore, before r... Read More