Vein Check

Diagnosis for pesky wound calls for look below the surface.

Robert Shuster understands that everyone has questions about their emotional functioning and the reasons they do what they do. Seeking answers to those questions is what motivated Robert to choose psychology as a career.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

The venous ulcer on Robert’s left leg is now completely healed.

“I wanted to understand myself better,” Robert shares. “I thought that learning about psychology would help me do that and that it would also help me understand other people as well and help them.”

Robert’s first year of field placement as part of his graduate school training was done at Hoffman Homes for Youth, a residential treatment facility for emotionally disturbed boys and girls in Littlestown, Pennsylvania.

“I had a pleasant experience there and they had a pleasant experience with me,” Robert, 81, recounts. “So when I was finished with graduate school, they offered me a directorship, which I accepted. And that’s what I did for my life’s work.

“After I retired from working with young people, I took a job at a prison to experience the other side of what I studied and practiced all my life. So during my career, I saw both sides of life, the positive and the negative.”

Robert faced a negative life experience of his own this past spring, when a large open wound developed where he had previously injured his left leg just above the ankle.

“It was just before April that I burned or cut my leg, and the wound developed,” Robert shares. “It was about the size of a 50-cent piece, and it was painful at first, but after a day or two, the pain mostly went away. The wound, though, just wouldn’t heal.”

After months of conventional treatment, Robert realized he required a specialist’s care. He heard about the work done by Douglas H. Joyce, DO, a board-certified cardiovascular-thoracic surgeon in Punta Gorda, and wondered if Dr. Joyce could do something for him.

Efficient Drainage

At the Joyce Vein & Aesthetic Institute (JVAI), Dr. Joyce specializes in the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of leg vein disorders, including venous ulcers, an advanced complication of venous disease that develops when the skin veins are exposed to high-pressure venous blood normally contained deep in the leg.

“When valves between these two vein systems fail, high-pressure venous blood is transmitted to the skin,” Dr. Joyce elaborates. “This creates backpressure that decreases the inflow of fresh arterial blood to the skin. The skin cannot get the proper oxygen and nutrients and dies, forming an ulcer.”

Dr. Joyce says that many people initially mistake venous ulcers for ant or spider bites and therefore attempt to treat them with dressings and antibiotics that don’t work. Only later do they learn that the cause of the wounds was leaking leg veins, or venous disease.

“That’s precisely what happened with Robert,” Dr. Joyce reports. “When he first came to me, he had a typical venous ulcer on his leg that had not been properly treated. So, we ran diagnostic tests to see if any leg veins were not functioning properly. What we discovered was a number of veins with dysfunctional valves that required treatment with our specialized techniques.”

“All I know is that I had that wound for months and it wasn’t healing. … My leg is fine now, because the wound is completely healed.” – Robert

At The Ulcer Center at JVAI, Dr. Joyce is uniquely equipped to treat venous ulcers, because he is dedicated solely to that discipline and uses leading-edge procedures and state-of-the-art technology.

“There are many good physicians treating vein disease, but they do not focus on patients who have the very serious complication of venous ulcers,” Dr. Joyce relates. “That’s why care at The Ulcer Center at JVAI is generally more appropriate and achieves better results.

“To achieve those results with venous ulcers, physicians must treat all veins in the leg, not just the common ones. They must treat the perforator veins as well, and most vein centers do not.

“Perforator veins are the veins that connect the high-pressure deep veins in the middle of the leg to the low-pressure superficial veins near the surface of the skin, and I think the fact that we treat them is what sets us apart from other centers. We specialize in treating perforator veins and, thus, treat the most complex venous disease cases.”

Among the trendsetting treatments is single-needle laser ablation, a noninvasive sealing method designed by Dr. Joyce for the closure of dysfunctional perforator veins.

Proven Success

Single-needle laser ablation was among the specialized techniques Dr. Joyce used to eliminate the problem veins in Robert’s left leg. It improved arterial blood flow, and the wound received the oxygen and nutrients required to heal.

“By using techniques such as single-needle ablation, we closed the dysfunctional veins in Robert’s leg that were causing the problem,” Dr. Joyce reports. “That made the blood drainage in Robert’s leg more efficient, which allowed the wound to heal.”

“All I know is that I had that wound for months and it wasn’t healing,” Robert says. “Then, Dr. Joyce performed his procedures and the wound began to heal, so the proof is in the pudding. My leg is fine now, because the wound is completely healed.”

From the moment he met the doctor, Robert had a feeling such a result would come. Robert says he was immediately impressed and especially struck by
Dr. Joyce’s hands-on approach and genuine interest in his patients.

“Some doctors spend just a few minutes with you, and while they’re talking with you, they’re looking at their computers and typing,” Robert describes.

“Dr. Joyce didn’t do any of that. He sat down with me and explained what he was going to do and how it was going to help me.

“We developed a personal relationship right away because Dr. Joyce is a fine musician and I used to play in a band. We talked about the clarinet because we both play. We had that in common, and it gave us something to talk about.

“I recommend Dr. Joyce and The Ulcer Center at JVAI and have already recommended them,” Robert reports. “My best friend is a captain in the sheriff’s department. I explained to him what was going on with me, and he made an appointment to see Dr. Joyce. Now Dr. Joyce is doing the same things on his legs that he did on mine.”

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