Patient Centered

Cardiovascular surgeon blends expertise with compassion.

Virginia native Mark Hudson, 67, spent 30 years serving his nation. After a three-year stint with the US Army, he became a contracting officer for the US Army at Fort Eustis, Virginia, where he worked for 27 years before retiring in 2010.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Three unique vein treatments have Mark back on his feet again.

“As part of my job at Fort Eustis, I did purchasing for the Training and Doctrine Command,” Mark elaborates. “I bought the physical and simulation training, and doctrine materials the Command uses for training.”

Mark relocated to Florida five years after he retired from his career with the Army. He was lured to The Villages® by its promise of an active and enjoyable lifestyle.

“Playing golf, going to the pools and doing all the other fun stuff is what brought me to The Villages,” he relates. “I heard about the area from my brother-in-law, who visited The Villages several years in a row. My wife and I came down seven years ago and stayed for a month. I fell in love with it, and my wife said we could move here.”

But Mark’s active lifestyle was curtailed for a while due to issues with his leg veins. Those issues began after he underwent treatment for other conditions.

“I had two surgeries – a double hernia surgery and GreenLight laser surgery for prostate problems,” he states. “During the course of having those surgeries, the veins in my legs, which weren’t in the best shape anyway, popped up into little clots. They looked really bad, especially the veins on my right leg, and I had cramping, too, so my primary care physician suggested I see Dr. Sharma.”

Ravi Sharma, MD, 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.

Dr. Sharma made an excellent first impression on Mark. The surgeon ordered an ultrasound examination of Mark’s legs that showed that a number of Mark’s leg veins were leaking and not enabling proper blood flow, a condition called venous insufficiency.

Compromised Blood Flow

The human circulatory system is made up of an intricate series of blood vessels. Veins are the blood 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.

“Venous insufficiency occurs when the deep leg veins cannot pump blood back to the heart,” Dr. Sharma explains. “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.”

There are many signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency. 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 stresses. “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.”

Minimally Invasive Options

A full range of advanced, minimally invasive treatment options for addressing varicose and spider veins is available at Premier Vein Centers. 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 informs. “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.

“My legs are one hundred percent better. The areas with the clots are completely clear. No one would ever know anything was there.” – Mark

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 notes. “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.

Beautiful Legs

To correct Mark’s venous insufficiency issues, Dr. Sharma created a treatment plan that included several minimally invasive techniques to close Mark’s leaking veins, including microphlebectomy, endovenous laser ablation and VenaSeal.

“Dr. Sharma wound up removing twenty-two veins from my right leg, from both the front and back of both thighs,” Mark reports. “None of the treatments were painful. In fact, the only uncomfortable portion was when they gave me the shots to numb my leg, but that wasn’t anything more than a little pinprick.”

Following the microphlebectomy, EVLA and VenaSeal treatments, Mark experienced dramatic improvement in his venous insufficiency. Now, he’s thrilled with how his legs look and feel.

“My legs are one hundred percent better,” Mark raves. “The areas with the clots are completely clear. No one would ever know anything was there. And the cramping is gone, as well.

“I wasn’t uncomfortable wearing shorts in public before my treatment because my wife said the backs of my legs looked bad, and I couldn’t see them. But I definitely feel better about wearing shorts now. Everybody says my legs look beautiful.”

Mark states that his visits to Premier Vein Centers are always positive experiences. He recognizes Dr. Sharma and his staff for their friendly and welcoming attitudes.

“Dr. Sharma is awesome,” Mark says. “And his bedside manner is terrific. He and his entire staff made me feel very comfortable, Everyone at Premier Vein Centers are as personable and well-mannered as you’d want anyone to be.

“I definitely recommend Dr. Sharma and Premier Vein Centers to anyone with any kind of vein problem. They’re great!”

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