Vascular surgeons are highly-trained medical professionals who manage the blood vessels throughout the body, except for the brain and heart. They treat different conditions that affect the circulatory system and determine the best course of treatment for the patient. It is their job to make sure that the vascular systems of their patients are healthy. Vascular surgeons are also experts in human physiology, particularly in the cardiovascular system, and can perform intricate procedures to improve vascular health.
Why would you need to see a vascular surgeon?
The most likely scenario for a patient to see a vascular surgeon is by referral from their primary care physician. However, it is also common for a specialist to refer a patient to a vascular surgeon. If your physician notices an issue with the health of your blood vessels they may send you for an evaluation. For example, a podiatrist may notice ulcers on the feet of a patient that is not properly healing, which can be a sign of peripheral artery disease. They can refer that patient to a vascular surgeon to be evaluated for peripheral artery disease to determine if the patient has it and how severe it is.
If you are referred to a vascular surgeon it isn’t a guarantee that you will undergo surgery. Their clinics have diagnostic tools and trained staff to look for blockages in the blood vessels. Some of the tools and techniques used to diagnose vascular disease are X-rays, ultrasounds, tomography, and angiography. You may be considered for a procedure if the provider decides that it’s the best treatment for the state of your condition.
What are some of the conditions that vascular surgeons deal with?
Different conditions affect the circulatory system. A vascular surgeon has the necessary tools, knowledge, and skills to deal with the conditions. They include;
- Varicose veins – They are twisted and enlarged veins that may cause pain to your legs.
- Peripheral artery disease – It is the narrowing of arteries in the legs due to fatty plaque build.
- Spider veins – It is a variation of the varicose veins where you may have webs of veins under your skin.
- Aneurysm – It is a bulge in your blood vessel. The swelling appears on the blood vessel’s weak spots, for example, where it branches.
- Carotid artery disease – It happens when fatty deposits restrict blood flow to your brain.
- Injury – induced blood vessel damage
- Deep-vein thrombosis – It happens when a blood clot is formed in a deep vein. Usually, such clots develop in the thigh, pelvis, arm, or lower leg.
The vascular surgeons at Modern Vascular are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral artery disease. Some also provide treatments for varicose veins, depending on the managing physician of the clinic. Visit our clinics page to learn about which services are available at the Modern Vascular clinic closest to you.
How do vascular surgeons treat patients?
Vascular surgeons do not prefer a specific type of procedure and will choose the best option for the patient. They are able to perform open surgery if necessary. At Modern Vascular, vascular surgeons prefer minimally-invasive procedures. Minimally-invasive procedures are less intrusive procedures that can have faster recovery times and fewer complications than open surgery.
Some of the minimally-invasive procedures a vascular surgeon may perform are:
- Angiogram – The physician injects a dye into the arteries and uses an X-ray machine to study the flow of blood. They are able to establish whether there are any abnormalities in your circulatory system without making an incision.
- Angioplasty – The vascular surgeon can unblock restricted arteries using a catheter. The surgeon guides the catheter through a blood vessel towards the blocked artery. After the catheter is placed a balloon can be inflated in order to expand the blood vessel and push the buildup against the artery walls.
- Venoplasty – It is a procedure similar to angioplasty. However, this procedure is used on patients that have a blockage in their veins.
Other treatment options that don’t involve a procedure are prescribing medications or lifestyle changes, such as a structured walking plan. Surgery is only considered if these are not viable options for treating a patient.
What kind of training do vascular surgeons need?
In order to become a vascular surgeon, an individual needs to meet educational and training requirements. There are additional skills that can come in handy for those who wish to become a vascular surgeon, such as good communication skills, being well-coordinated, having composure under pressure, being a leader, and having empathy.
Vascular surgeons must first receive a bachelor’s degree, which is a required qualification to attend medical school. In medical school, there is learning in a classroom setting and also clinical education. The first two years of med school are pre-clinical and focused on learning in a classroom setting. The last two years are similar to an internship, because the student becomes part of a care team, providing support to residents and attending physicians to care for the patients.
After completing medical school the student will complete an internship under the supervision of experienced surgeons. The experienced surgeons train them and help develop their skills.
After the one-year internship, the surgeon must complete a five- to seven-year residency program. Before the surgeon is considered fully qualified, the surgeon has to complete a fellowship program that takes about two to three years. The fellowship program trains the surgeon to specialize in cardiothoracic, cardiovascular thoracic, or cardiovascular surgery.
What can you expect if you see a vascular surgeon?
The vascular surgeon is mainly interested in your medical and family history on your first visit. Therefore, carry all your recent blood work, diagnostic tests, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results. You may need to change into a gown, so wear comfortable clothing.
The surgeon then performs various tests to try and diagnose your problem. After the diagnosis, the surgeon comes up with an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on your condition, the treatment plan varies.
It may include lifestyle changes, more tests, medication, or even surgery. Sometimes the treatment may take a long time. You may have to see your surgeon for years before you heal. Therefore, you must choose the right surgeon for your circulatory system treatment.
Choosing a vascular surgeon
Considering that a vascular surgeon deals with a sensitive part of the body, you need to emphasize your selection process. There are several factors you can consider;
- Board certification – The surgeon you choose needs to meet all the training requirements of a vascular surgeon. A good surgeon needs to be certified by a notable organization, for example, the American Board of Surgery.
- Experience – Surgeons need to be well versed with what they are treating. The more experienced the surgeon is, the better the care the surgeon can offer.
- References – Ask your primary caregiver to refer you to an excellent vascular surgeon. Also, you can get suggestions from friends and family.
- Communication skills – It would be best to have a surgeon who can communicate articulately and makes you comfortable. Also, look for one who has excellent and welcoming staff.
Vascular surgeons are responsible for their patients’ vascular health. You will usually only see a vascular surgeon if you are referred by your primary care physician or a specialist. These medical professionals have years of training and education and have an extensive understanding of the cardiovascular system. They are able to perform open surgery but will opt for minimally-invasive methods whenever possible because of the advantages for the patient.