Vein Reliever

Minimally invasive procedures soothe chronic leg pain.

Charlie Myers was a young man of 30 in 1978. At that time, he was managing drugstores for a large, national chain. The job was often stressful, so Charlie pursued a new position that was a little less taxing. He found exactly what he was looking for with an industrial supply company.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

After undergoing three minimally invasive treatments on his leg veins, Charles can now stand for hours without pain.

“I was lucky enough to work for that company for 36 years,” says Charlie, now 72. “I started out as a driver and moved up from there. In the beginning, I also did some sales and customer service, but I mostly worked as a purchasing agent, specifically for factories that contracted with us to buy products for them.

“Most of the products I purchased were general factory supplies, anything that a manufacturing plant or machine shop would use. It was those types of businesses that I typically worked with as a purchasing agent.”

Charlie retired in 2014, then relocated to Florida in January 2019 after a hurricane devastated his home up north.

“We were living on Topsail Island off the coast of North Carolina, but Hurricane Florence took care of that situation, so we moved to Homosassa,” he elaborates. “We’re still close to the water but not directly on it, which seems to be better as far as hurricanes go.”

Charlie increased the time spent on his favorite activities, such as walking, cooking and caring for his pet cats. But last year, he began to experience pain in his legs that made it difficult for him to walk or stand for long periods.

“I’ve had varicose veins for years, since I was around 50 years old, but my legs never hurt until the beginning of last year,” Charlie relates. “And once that pain started, it just got worse and worse.

“It was mostly an aching pain, but sometimes it was sharp. On a scale of one to 10, it was usually a five or six. The pain was more annoying than anything else because it became relatively constant. By April, my legs were hurting just about every day.

“The pain changed my life to some degree. I stayed away from activities that were taxing on my legs because they made the pain worse. I stopped doing anything that involved a lot of walking.”

Charlie was convinced the discomfort was related to the veins in his legs, and by April 2019, the pain had become so intense that he decided to visit a vein center. He discovered one close to his home and highly rated in Premier Vein Centers.

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

During the first visit, Dr. Sharma ordered an ultrasound of Charlie’s legs. It showed a number of veins were leaking and not enabling the proper flow of blood back toward Charlie’s heart, a condition called venous insufficiency.

Circulatory System

“Venous insufficiency occurs when deep leg veins, which lie in groups of muscles, cannot pump blood back to the heart,” Dr. Sharma describes. “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 can be seen, such as bulging varicose veins, swelling, and thickening and discoloration of the skin of the ankles or legs.

Symptoms can be felt, and they include throbbing, aching, stinging, burning, itching, nighttime leg cramps and restless legs. These signs and symptoms are indications that the veins are not functioning properly.

“It is extremely important that patients experiencing any of these signs and symptoms have their leg veins assessed,” Dr. Sharma asserts. “Leaving the condition untreated can lead to more serious complications, including leg ulcers, infection and a breakdown of the skin.

“When seeking a physician for care, it is crucial for people to choose surgeons who specialize in venous diseases and only venous diseases. I recommend staying away from physicians in large practices that offer a wide variety of services who perform venous treatment as a side service.

“The physicians people choose should also be experienced in the advanced procedures available to treat venous diseases. In addition, they must also express genuine concern and compassion for their patients. Physicians with these qualifications achieve the best outcomes.”

Premiere Vein Centers offers a full range of advanced, minimally invasive treatment options for addressing varicose and spider veins. These treatment options include microphlebectomy, endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), sclerosing injections and VenaSeal.

 

Microphlebectomy has replaced stripping, the outdated, more invasive procedure during which doctors removed the large veins by making big gashes across the leg that often left sizable 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 describes. “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 through 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. 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 small amounts 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 will work best 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 relates. “And they are happy to learn that they can resume activities right away following the procedure.”

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

“Free of Pain”

Using ultrasound, Dr. Sharma discovered that eight of Charlie’s leg veins were not functioning properly and were failing to send blood back up his legs. To correct the problem and alleviate Charlie’s pain, Dr. Sharma used three minimally invasive procedures: EVLA, microphlebectomy and UGS. The treatments were scheduled over several months, which worked out well for Charlie, who rates the
outcome as excellent.

“Dr. Sharma performed the laser procedures and vein removal in May, June and the beginning of July 2019,” Charlie reports. “He gave my legs some time to heal, then did the injections in October. He followed up in January and February of this year to make sure everything in my legs was good, which it is.

“The procedures worked perfectly. My legs hurt pretty much daily when I first went to Premier Vein Centers, but my legs don’t hurt anymore. Where the pain was a five or six before, now it’s zero. I’m completely free of pain, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”
Charlie has fully returned to his activities. Without pain, he can walk and stand for hours.

A secondary benefit of the treatment is the elimination of Charlie’s unsightly varicose veins. He is pleased with the improved appearance of his legs following treatment.

“I didn’t go to Premier Vein Centers to make my legs look better,” he says. “I went there to make my legs stop hurting, and that’s been achieved completely. My legs aren’t pretty, but they never were. Still, they look a lot better now than they did.

“My bulging varicose veins are pretty much gone. There are one or two that are still in the process of debulging. I’ve still got a few scars from where Dr. Sharma removed the veins, but those are a lot less noticeable than they were and will go away in time.”

Charlie is also pleased with Dr. Sharma and his staff. He credits Dr. Sharma’s knowledge and personality, and that of his staff, for helping make the procedures easier to handle.

“Dr. Sharma is excellent with his procedures and really knows what he’s doing,” Charlie says. “I looked at his history and career in surgery and knew he was a good choice. It is important to me that he is a cardiovascular surgeon because that shows a high level of expertise.

“Dr. Sharma is witty, which is unusual and refreshing in a doctor. Some of his staff members are also witty, and they’re all very good at what they do. My experience at Premier Vein Centers was pleasant, so far as someone sticking lasers in you can be pleasant. I definitely recommend them.”

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    • 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