What do Vascular Surgeons Do?
Vascular surgeons are specialists who are highly trained to treat diseases of the vascular system. Your blood vessels -- arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood and veins carrying blood back to the heart -- are the roadways of your circulatory system. Without smoothly flowing blood, your body cannot function. Conditions such as hardening of the arteries can create “traffic jams” in your circulatory system, obstructing the flow of blood to any part of the body.
What is Vascular Disease?
Vascular disease is any disease of your vascular system, which includes your veins and arteries.
Most Americans are familiar with heart disease and with the consequences of blockages in the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. But few people realize that blockages caused by a buildup of plaque and cholesterol affect more than coronary arteries. Arteries throughout the body carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart, so blockages can occur in all arteries with serious effects.
What If I Don't Need Surgery?
A vascular surgeon makes sure patients with vascular health issues know and understand all their options. In short, vascular surgeons can do surgery, but they see and treat many patients who don’t require surgery. Many vascular problems can be treated with medication or exercise. As one vascular surgeon explained – “I spend 80 percent of my time trying to talk my patients out of having surgery.”
What Procedures can a Vascular Surgeon Do?
A vascular surgeon is able to do every kind of procedure. Some specialists specialize in one or two kinds of vascular interventions, so their patients tend to get those treatments. Vascular surgeons are trained in everything: open, complicated surgery and in minimally invasive, endovascular procedures. Some patients need one, some need the other, while many need no surgery at all. Vascular surgeons are “treatment agnostic,” that is, they don’t prefer any kind of treatment over another. Patients can be assured they will get the best treatment for their particular need.
When Should I See a Vascular Surgeon?
Typically, patients are referred to a vascular surgeon by their primary care physician. Sometimes patients become
acquainted with a vascular surgeon after an unexpected event lands them in the hospital. You might be referred to a
vascular surgeon if you see your regular doctor for pain in your legs, and learn that you have peripheral arterial
disease, for example. If you are in a high risk category: are a smoker, diabetic, and/or have high blood pressure, you may be a candidate for starting a relationship with a vascular surgeon.