Tailored Treatment

Expertise, leading-edge technology allow for customized care.

For 42 years, Henry Landrum worked as a registered nurse, 30 of them in the emergency room. He spent hours on his feet caring for patients. He also sat for long periods noting patients’ symptoms and treatments in their medical charts. Add all that to a genetic predisposition for them, and Henry eventually developed severe varicose veins.

Dr. Ravi Sharma of Premier Vein Centers in Homosassa and The Villages® treated Henry Landrum and Mary Jim Campbell for venous insufficiency using various minimally invasive procedures.

Henry’s vein treatment makes working on the farm a lot easier

“I had really bad veins in my upper and lower legs,” confirms the Brooksville native. “I inherited them from my mother, who had terrible ulcers on her legs. I’ve had varicose veins for years, and they’ve bothered me off and on for about ten years. I’ve been retired now for five years, and my veins have gotten worse within the last three or four.

“I felt a lot of pain in my legs toward evening. I had achiness, swelling and cramping at night, and it became hard for me to walk, which is problematic when you live on a farm as I do. What really alarmed me, though, was when my feet and legs started to become discolored. I knew then I really had a problem and needed to do something about it.”

Henry’s daughter, an ultrasound technician, encouraged him to have his legs evaluated by a vein specialist. He knew of one in the area, Ravi Sharma, MD, of Premier Vein Centers in Homosassa and The Villages®. Dr. Sharma is a board-certified cardiovascular surgeon with expertise in blood vessel disorders affecting the legs.

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. Henry was surprised to find that he had crossed paths with Dr. Sharma in the past.

“I had heard of Dr. Sharma; he was a chest surgeon in the Tampa area,” Henry relates. “He had a very good reputation as a surgeon, so I decided to have him check me out. I’ll be darned if he isn’t the same doctor who worked on my father at one time. I could hardly believe it.

“Dr. Sharma is very knowledgeable. He is also a very nice gentleman and very professional. He is very confident in what he does. He performed the ultrasounds on my legs and said I needed to have several procedures to take away the swelling and get my legs better so I could walk again. I decided to go ahead and have them done.”

Among the procedures Dr. Sharma used to help Henry was the latest technology, non-thermal VenaSeal.

Symptoms Unseen

The human circulatory system is composed of an intricate series of blood vessels. Veins are the vessels that return oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart. There are three types of veins: superficial veins, deep veins and perforating veins. Superficial veins lie close to the skin, deep veins lie in groups of muscles, and perforating 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 states. “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, Dr. Sharma adds. 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.

Dr. Ravi Sharma of Premier Vein Centers in Homosassa and The Villages® treated Henry Landrum and Mary Jim Campbell for venous insufficiency using various minimally invasive procedures.

Mary Jim Campbell

“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.”

The cardiovascular surgeon reports that venous insufficiency is more common than many people think. It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans suffer with symptomatic venous insufficiency. Venous vascular disease is five times as prevalent as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, and more than two times as prevalent as coronary artery disease.

“A huge problem in getting venous insufficiency properly treated is that many of its symptoms are invisible and often misunderstood by patients,” Dr. Sharma notes. “One of those symptoms is leg pain. Pain is common with many disorders, so venous insufficiency is often overlooked or misdiagnosed.

“Patients and physicians alike need to understand that vein problems are often present before they are visible on the surface. Symptoms such as pain, heaviness and restless legs can signal vein disease without the corresponding visible varicose veins. With the right diagnosis, a patient’s leg pain can be relieved with simple, minimally invasive techniques.

“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. Physicians with these qualifications achieve the best outcomes.” 

Advanced Options

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 involved procedure during which doctors treated 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.”

Dr. Ravi Sharma of Premier Vein Centers in Homosassa and The Villages® treated Henry Landrum and Mary Jim Campbell for venous insufficiency using various minimally invasive procedures.

Henry Landrum

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 aren’t 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 acknowledges. “And they’re happy to learn that they can resume activities right away.”

Premier Vein Centers provides a free initial consultation and accepts most insurance, including Medicare.

The Preacher’s Wife

Preachers never retire, and neither do preachers’ wives. Mary Jim Campbell has assisted her husband in building churches in many states, including Florida. A few years ago, they returned to Florida and settled in Summerfield. Soon after, they began a new church, where Mary Jim’s husband continues to minister.

“As a preacher’s wife, I work with him,” Mary Jim explains. “When we build churches, I’m right alongside him doing whatever needs to be done. I work to promote him and make his life comfortable because preachers in this day and age deal with a lot of issues.”

Mary Jim recently had a few issues of her own to deal with. For one, she had a bulging varicose vein on her left calf. She’d actually had it for many years, but it never really concerned her. It bulged, but was barely visible because of its location on her leg.

“That vein appeared after a tumbling accident in high school,” Mary Jim reports. “I had a bulge, but it was on the inside of my leg right about where the muscle is. That one didn’t bother me. I’ve just lived with it since the Fifties.”

While Mary Jim ignored the vein on her left leg, she did become concerned when unsightly veins suddenly began appearing on her right leg. She was self-conscious about the highly visible veins and considered having that leg treated.

“After we moved to Florida, a vein popped out on my right thigh and started crossing over my kneecap,” Mary Jim confirms. “It was very unsightly. Of course, in Florida I was wearing shorts more, and it felt like everybody was noticing it. I had a little swelling in my legs as well, and some painful leg cramps.

“I’m not really vain, and I’ve lived with the vein on my left leg for many years, but I really felt I needed to take care of the ones on my right leg.”

Mary Jim’s desire to seek treatment for her leg veins led her to Dr. Sharma.

“I thought I was going in for cosmetic treatment until I had my consultation with Dr. Sharma,” Mary Jim remembers. “He explained that my problem had to do with circulation and that if I didn’t do something about both legs now, I would have major problems down the line. Treatment would eliminate the unsightly veins as well.”

Through the use of ultrasound images, which he obtained after learning of her health history, Dr. Sharma diagnosed Mary Jim with venous insufficiency. Dr. Sharma recommended several procedures to address her condition.

Dr. Ravi Sharma of Premier Vein Centers in Homosassa and The Villages® treated Henry Landrum and Mary Jim Campbell for venous insufficiency using various minimally invasive procedures.

Mary Jim says, “My legs look as good as they possibly can for a seventy-eight-year-old woman”

Treatment Trio

Mary Jim was impressed with Dr. Sharma’s expertise. She was also intrigued with the treatments she received at Premier Vein Centers, where Dr. Sharma addressed her venous insufficiency by employing a trio of procedures.

“I had laser ablation, microphlebectomy and sclerotherapy, and I was amazed by how little pain was involved,” Mary Jim marvels. “During one procedure, Dr. Sharma actually took out a piece of my vein and showed it to me. It was fascinating.

“To do the vein over my kneecap, he made a small incision in the knee with a scalpel and punctured the skin. There were no stitches with any of the procedures, and you can’t tell at all now that I had anything done to my legs.”

Dr. Sharma used the same three procedures, as well as VenaSeal, to treat Henry’s venous insufficiency, and they achieved positive results with him as well. Henry is very pleased with how his legs look and feel since his treatment at Premier Vein Centers.

“My legs look a lot better,” he enthuses. “They don’t swell nearly as much as they did. The color is also much better than it was. Overall, the circulation has improved one hundred percent. I’m amazed.

“I went from excruciating pain to no pain.

“I’m also walking a lot better than before. I can walk for extended periods of time, and walking great distances doesn’t bother me. Before, it was getting so my legs hurt so badly that I couldn’t walk very far without having to stop.”

Mary Jim credits Dr. Sharma and his staff with making her experience a positive one. They even let her husband sit in on one of the procedures. She was truly pleased with the ease of the procedures and very happy with the results.

“I can’t say enough about the thoroughness and friendliness of Dr. Sharma and his staff,” Mary Jim says. “They told me what they were doing when they did the procedures. There was no fear involved, and I was very comfortable. I felt very confident in what Dr. Sharma was doing.

“My legs look and feel fine now. All my bulges and bumps are gone, and there’s no swelling or cramps. I can’t say I ever had beautiful legs, but they sure look a lot better now than they did before I went to Dr. Sharma. My legs look as good as they possibly can for a seventy-eight-year-old woman. I no longer have any concerns whatsoever about wearing shorts.”

Completion of Henry’s vein treatment was delayed because he had to stop midway and have his hip replaced. While it seemed like an extra-long process for him, Henry says the results are well worth the wait.   

“The knotty varicose veins on my legs are gone,” he describes. “I just have a few little spider veins, and those are going away as well now that Dr. Sharma gave me the injections, so my procedures were all very successful.

“I know there are a lot of places out there advertising vein treatment, but Dr. Sharma is the number one doctor in Central Florida without question. I have confidence in him. I recommend him to anyone who wants to have these procedures done.”

According to Mary Jim, the caring, comforting treatment she received in Dr. Sharma’s operating suite is given everywhere at Premier Vein Centers. Because of the inviting atmosphere, Mary Jim says she actually enjoys her visits there, which is not typically the case with her doctor appointments.

“I don’t go to the doctor unless it’s necessary,” she shares. “But with Premier Vein Centers, I look forward to going there. Dr. Sharma and his staff are friendly and happy. They create a family-type of environment.

“If anyone has varicose veins, I recommend the treatments I had done, and I recommend they go to Dr. Sharma at Premier Vein Centers to get them done. On a scale of one to ten, I give them a ten!”

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