Paradise Found

Minimally invasive techniques relieve nagging leg pain.

Health enthusiast Charlene Litwin’s decision to move from Chicago to Florida was based primarily on her desire to be closer to her son, but the opportunity to live under perpetually sunny skies amid picture postcard settings played a part in it as well.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Charlene Litwin

“I love Florida,” Charlene exudes. “I love the climate; I love the palm trees.”
A vitamin consultant and health and wealth coach, Charlene arrived here eight years ago dreaming of daily walks along sun-splashed beaches, but those walks and many of her daily activities were soon hampered by severe leg pain.
“The problem with my legs was going on for quite a while,” Charlene admits. “I was having tremendous pain when I walked. I would get cramping, specifically in the side of my calf on my right leg, as well as some cramping in my left leg.
“The pain was the worst thing because I was used to walking two to three miles; then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t go more than maybe an eighth of a block – a very short distance – and my legs would cramp. I work at a nutrition store and do a lot of walking when I’m working. I had to hold onto a cart for support.”
Charlene also had a few ugly varicose veins in her legs, and experienced some heaviness and swelling, but she was most concerned about the pain and how it restricted her mobility. It wasn’t the external aesthetics Charlene worried about; it was what was going on deep inside her legs that troubled her.
“I went through testing to see if there was any problem with my arterial blood flow, and that was okay,” she reports. “Then, I met a nurse at another physician’s office who was very knowledgeable and told me about Ashton Vein Center. She said they could evaluate my leg situation, so I took her advice and went there for an evaluation.”
Ashton Vein Center is the practice of Thomas Ashton, MD. Dr. Ashton practiced general surgery for 20 years before dedicating himself to the modern evaluation and treatment of venous disorders, which he’s been doing for the past 20 years. During that time, Dr. Ashton has performed more than 10,000 procedures on leg veins.
During his initial examination of Charlene, Dr. Ashton ordered an ultrasound examination of her legs. The results showed the tiny, one-way valves in the leg veins that help move blood out of the legs up toward the heart were not functioning properly. As a result, blood was pooling in Charlene’s legs, causing swelling and pain. This is a condition called venous insufficiency.
The most common sign of venous insufficiency is varicose veins. Other signs and symptoms include swelling, pain, throbbing, stinging, burning, heaviness, nighttime cramps and restless legs. In its later stages, there may be discoloration of the skin around the lower legs or ankles and, eventually, a breakdown of the skin.

Generating Awareness

“Varicose veins and other venous problems in the legs are the most common medical conditions on the planet,” declares Dr. Ashton. “It’s estimated that up to sixty percent of the population will have a vein problem in their legs at some time in their life.
“There are about three hundred and fifty million people in the United States, which means that two hundred and ten million have venous disease. Only a very small fraction of those people, however, are recognized as having the problem.”
Venous insufficiency is under-recognized, underdiagnosed and undertreated, explains Dr. Ashton, who says the absence of treatment can have serious consequences. It is a risk factor for other, dangerous conditions that can cause distressing illness or even death.

“I’m doing fabulously. Shortly after the procedure, I was able to walk three or four times as much as I could before.” – Charlene

“People with venous insufficiency are thirty times more likely to develop a blood clot than people with healthy veins,” asserts the doctor. “That’s a significant risk because blood clots can be fatal.
“People with chronic insufficiency are also much more likely to develop ulcers, or open wounds, around their ankles, especially if the venous insufficiency is left untreated. Ulcers occur when the skin on the legs breaks down. They can become infected, and the infection can spread to other parts of the body.”
To treat leaking veins and prevent these complications, Dr. Ashton and his team at Ashton Vein Center offer a full array of minimally invasive procedures to gently close the leaking veins and divert blood flow to healthy veins. One procedure uses a laser and is called endovenous laser ablation, or EVLA. Another technique uses radiofrequency energy to seal the incompetent veins.
“A newer procedure, called VenaSeal™, uses a biologic adhesive to close the veins,” notes Dr. Ashton. “This technique works like an instantaneous closure. Once we’re done with the procedure, patients can walk right out of the office, and unless they’ve got a great deal of swelling, they don’t even need to wear compression stockings.
“Sometimes, we combine procedures based on the patient’s anatomy. For example, the laser procedure works very well with straight veins, but it’s better to use the VenaSeal on veins that twist and turn. We customize the treatment to fit each patient’s needs.”
After Charlene received clearance from her cardiologist, who did some previous studies on her arterial blood flow, Dr. Ashton proceeded with his treatment, choosing EVLA and VenaSeal to treat Charlene’s venous insufficiency. The procedures were very effective for Charlene, and she’s very excited about their outcome.

Beyond Belief

“I’m doing fabulously,” she raves. “Shortly after the procedure, I was able to walk three or four times as much as I could before. I walked probably a whole block, maybe even more. The treatment was a success beyond belief. I didn’t expect results that quickly. Now, I can walk a couple of blocks, and I walk all over the store for nearly six hours.
“I’m still progressing. Dr. Ashton said it will take at least six months until I fully recover. He closed off the bad vein that was taking away the circulation, so new circulation, called collateral circulation, can flow. That increases each day, so I’m getting better and better every day.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Charlene was delighted by her experience with Dr. Ashton and his staff.

For Charlene, visiting Ashton Vein Center was a delightful experience. Not only did she achieve great results from her treatment, she also received great customer service from the vein specialist and his staff.
“Dr. Ashton and his team at Ashton Vein Center are wonderful,” Charlene relates. “Dr. Ashton has a great bedside manner, and he explained everything about the procedure to me before he did it. And the procedures they do there are noninvasive.
“Years ago, they weren’t able to do it that way. But Dr. Ashton and his nurse have done so many of these newer procedures that when I had mine done, I felt next to nothing. It was virtually painless. It was just amazing.
“And the procedure helped as far as the appearance of my legs, too. Cosmetically, they certainly are better. But it’s what Dr. Ashton did for my ability to walk that makes me most happy. It’s so wonderful. I’m so grateful.
“I highly recommend them. I have their cards, and if anybody approaches me at work, I always recommend Dr. Ashton and Ashton Vein Center. I couldn’t
possibly think of anybody better.”

Print This Article
    • Ashton Vein Center

      The Phlebologists at the Ashton Vein Center in Palm Beach, FL offer the most comprehensive vein care methods and procedures available anywhere. The entire staff is active in the American College of Phlebology and enthusiastically participates i... Read More

    • Thomas Ashton, MD, FACPh

      Thomas Ashton, MD, FACPh, is board certified by the American Board of Phlebology. He earned his medical degree from Rush University College of Medicine in Chicago, where he also completed a five-year residency in general surgery in 1984. Dr. A... Read More