Arresting Symptoms

Tailored, minimally invasive vein treatments resolve leg pain.

In 1972, John Olasin won the lottery. It just happened to be the military draft lottery. He was No. 1 on the list that year, but he wound up feeling like a winner anyway.

With his varicose veins gone, John now has “perfect legs.”

“They took me right out of college,” John recalls. “I served in the United States Navy as a flight engineer on a jet aircraft. I taught flight instructors as well. I enjoyed the service so much I stayed in for 20 years and 18 days, then I retired.”

With the education received through the military, John earned a degree in criminal justice. He entered Florida’s police academy and became a law enforcement officer.

“I actually worked 75 days in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office before I got out of the Navy,” John clarifies. “After I retired, I became a deputy sheriff for Monroe County in the fabulous Florida Keys.”

For six months, John patrolled the streets, but because of his teaching background, he was pulled off that beat and placed in the school system to serve as a school resource officer. He taught the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program and appeared on a weekly television show to address relevant safety topics. John also joined forces with four other officers in the state to found the Florida Sheriffs Explorers Association.

“The Explorers is a program backed by the sheriff’s office to mentor kids who want to become lawyers or police officers,” John explains. “I started out with three kids, and after nine years there were more than 150 students in my program. I loved it. I loved teaching kids.”

Dating back to his days in the Navy, John was plagued by symptomatic varicose veins in his legs. He blames their development on the pressure generated by flying jets at high altitudes and the forces created by wearing steel-toe shoes on concrete. The condition caused significant swelling and pain that eventually required treatment.

“The veins in my legs got really bad, and in 1987, while I was still in the Navy, I had some of them stripped,” John recounts. “That procedure was a serious operation, and they put me out while they did it. But afterward, my legs felt great.”

Following surgery, John’s legs remained symptom-free until this past year, when the pain and discomfort returned with a vengeance.

“Almost every night, I got violent cramps in my legs,” John describes. “I would get out of bed crying because my legs hurt so bad. On a daily basis, there was a prickling pain that rated about a six on a scale of one to 10. I didn’t let the pain keep me from doing anything. I just sucked it up, thinking the leg pain was just going to be a part of my life.

“Then in July of last year, I visited my dermatologist. She took one look at my legs, saw all the varicose veins and referred me to Dr. Sharma.”

Signs and Symptoms

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

During John’s initial visit, Dr. Sharma ordered an ultrasound of John’s legs. It showed a number of deep leg veins leaking and restricting blood from flowing back toward his heart, a condition called venous insufficiency.

Chronic venous insufficiency has multiple causes.

“The swelling and achiness in my legs are all gone now.” – John

“After long periods of sitting or standing, the blood in leg veins can pool,” Dr. Sharma informs. “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, indicators that the veins are not functioning properly. Signs, which can be seen, include bulging varicose veins as well as swelling, thickening and discoloration of the skin of the ankles or legs. Symptoms, which are felt, include throbbing, aching, stinging, burning, itching, nighttime leg cramps and restless legs.

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

Choosing A Physician

Dr. Sharma goes on to describe the qualities patients should look for when seeking a physician for care.

“It is crucial that people choose surgeons who specialize in venous diseases and only venous diseases,” he stresses. “I recommend staying away from physicians in large practices that offer a variety of services and perform venous treatment as a side service. Vein treatment must be tailored to the individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

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

Minimally Invasive Options

Premier Vein Centers offers a range of advanced, minimally invasive treatments to address varicose and spider veins. These options include microphlebectomy, endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), sclerosing injections and VenaSeal.

Microphlebectomy has replaced vein stripping, an outdated, more invasive procedure during which doctors removed the large veins by making big gashes across the leg, often leaving 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 contends. “And with this procedure, patients end up with tiny marks on the skin or no scars at all.”

EVLA is performed using a sterile laser fiber that 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, small twisted veins that are visible through the skin. 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. After treatment, the blood that used to flow through the faulty veins is diverted to other healthy veins in the leg.

“I look 10 years younger since having the laser treatment.” – Jameson

Dr. Sharma relies on his expertise to determine which procedures will work best based on each patient’s symptoms and health status.

“In Mr. Olasin’s case, I felt that the VenaSeal procedure would produce the best results,” Dr. Sharma states.

The advanced treatments offered at Premier Vein Centers are 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 observes. “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.

“Perfect Legs”

Following a thorough evaluation of John’s legs and review of his symptoms, Dr. Sharma used VenaSeal and microphlebectomy to close John’s leaking veins, most notably his great saphenous veins, the large veins that run from the ankle to the groin. John’s treatments were completed over several visits in August and September.

“It was fun to watch as Dr. Sharma performed those procedures,” John enthuses. “He used ultrasound, so when he put the numbing solution in my leg I could actually see it travel all through the vein. And when he removed my bad veins, I felt almost instant relief. It was amazing.

John reports the leg cramps have been absent since October.

“The swelling and achiness in my legs are all gone now,” he states.

While John wore shorts before his treatment at Premier Vein Centers, he was always very conscious of the appearance of his legs. But since his treatment, John is happy with the look of his legs in shorts.

“I’ve got good-looking legs now,” John raves. “There was a lot of scarring after the vein stripping, but Dr. Sharma used little incisions to remove my bad veins, so there’s hardly any scarring on my legs. And the visible varicose veins are gone. I have perfect legs now.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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