What is a Vascular Surgeon?
Vascular surgeons manage arteries and veins in every part of the body except the brain and the heart. Vascular surgeons do far more than just perform surgery. They treat many patients who don’t require surgery and ensure that these patients know and understand all of their treatment options. Vascular surgeons build long-term relationships with their patients.
You may not be familiar with the term vascular system, but you have probably heard of the circulatory system – the good news is that they are the same thing! The vascular system is comprised of all of the vessels in the body that carry blood from the heart to the limbs, tissues and organs. This system provides the nourishment that the body needs to function, and also works to fight diseases. The circulatory system is actually considered itself to be one of the body’s organs, and it includes the lymphatic system as well as the cardiovascular system.
Why Would I Need to See a Vascular Surgeon?
Vascular surgeons treat a variety of diseases of the vascular system such as peripheral arterial disease, stroke, wounds, kidney disease on dialysis, leg swelling, varicose veins, blood clots, arm pain, vascular infections and vascular injuries. All of these diseases affect the body’s blood vessels by impacting or blocking the “roadways” of the circulatory system. The body needs a consistent and regular flow of blood in order to work properly, so vascular surgeons are the doctors who are responsible for tending to this delicate and important job.
One myth about vascular surgeons is that they only perform surgery – this is false! We also help patients at a high risk for vascular diseases or with known health issues to understand their health treatment options and maintain a positive quality of life through medication and exercise recommendations.
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Risk factors for vascular disease include history of heart disease, stroke, physical inactivity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and older age. If you are high risk for vascular disease, you are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a vascular surgeon. It may seem counterintuitive, but vascular surgeons don’t always prefer surgery as a treatment option, and we work hard to give our patients a range of options to choose from whenever it is possible, including minimally invasive procedures.
You would typically be referred to a vascular specialist by your primary care or ER doctor, but you can also schedule an appointment on your own if you have questions or concerns. If you need to see a vascular surgeon, it is important to follow through with the appointment, as vascular diseases can become very serious and can even require amputation if not managed appropriately.
What Types of Procedures Do Vascular Surgeons Perform?
Vascular surgeons handle all of the veins and arteries throughout the body except for the brain and the heart. We perform several types of procedures including minimally invasive catheter-based procedures to open arteries or veins, as well as open surgery. Some of these procedures include aneurysm repair, carotid endarterectomy and stenting, lower/upper extremity stenting and bypass, vein ablation, IVC filters and dialysis fistula/grafts.
While some patients require surgery for treatment, others may not need surgery at all. Vascular surgeons manage some vascular conditions with proper diet, exercise and medication. Since we are trained in all treatment options, vascular surgeons don’t prefer any kind of treatment over another. We individualize treatment to each patient's specific problem.
Vascular surgeons always work to ensure that each patient receives the best treatment based upon their specific needs. The best part about seeing a vascular surgeon is that we are invested in patient care in the long-term. Our goal is to monitor your health throughout your life, and we strive to form relationships with our patients to give them the best quality of health for the duration of their care.
Editors note: This article was originally published on Apr 10, 2018.
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