Dr. Ford at Thrive over 55 Event
Posted in General on October 24, 2019
CHARLOTTE – A large segment of the population with aching, throbbing and tired legs may have no idea they have a common vein condition, known as venous reflux. People who have bulging varicose veins are usually aware that there may be a problem, but for people without visible veins at the skin surface, it is difficult to recognize that underlying veins problems could be the culprit.
Circulatory problems can present in a variety of ways. The leg veins are a network of pipes that carry blood back to the heart. Within the leg veins small flaps of tissue act as one-way valves, allowing blood to flow in the right direction and preventing blood from flowing in the wrong direction. When these valves in the leg veins are not working properly it can create a back-pressure effect, resulting in a variety of leg symptoms. Common symptoms include painful varicose veins, aching/tired legs, and ankle swelling. Over time some people will get staining and discoloration of the skin in their lower legs, and in advanced cases wounds can develop, typically in the ankle area.
“If someone is living with leg symptoms that are anything more than mild or intermittent, they may be living with those symptoms needlessly,” says Dr. Peter Ford, of Vascular Solutions.
Dr. Ford has owned and operated Vascular Solutions, a vein practice located at the Arboretum in south Charlotte (corner of Providence Road & N.C. 51), since 2014.
Dr. Ford isn’t just a board-certified vascular surgeon, but he’s also an expert in the field, having been published in surgical journals and textbooks. He served as an assistant professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s surgery department and continues to train physicians across the region on advanced procedures.
The most common condition Dr. Ford treats is venous reflux, which is caused by dysfunctional valves in the leg veins, and results in blood backing up within the affected veins. He routinely redirects blood to working veins in one of three ways.
Radiofrequency ablation, also known as Closurefast procedure, involves sealing off the bad veins using a catheter that is temporarily inserted into veins. The procedure is performed in the office, involves a small amount of local anesthetic and typically takes 20-30 minutes per vein. Dr. Ford offers alternatives to cauterizing veins, including the use of a polymer glue (VenaSeal) and microfoam (Varithena) to seal them.
Another group of potential patients may be aware they have issues with their veins but may be reluctant to get the veins treated.
“People are sometimes concerned it’s going to be painful when in fact there are now multiple painless non-invasive methods for fixing the veins that were not previously available,” Dr. Ford said.
He commonly gets questions from patients: How serious is this? Do I need to have something done? When does it need to be done?
Dr. Ford believes that anyone who is experiencing leg symptoms, such as aching, throbbing, early leg fatigue, leg cramping, leg swelling, and anyone who has symptomatic bulging varicose veins are appropriate candidates for getting their leg veins evaluated.
“We typically invite patients with leg symptoms to attend a new-patient consultation”, says Dr. Ford. The new patient consultation takes about 90 minutes. During the new patient visit, a detailed ultrasound of the leg veins is performed, which allows identification of vein problems, and provides a “road-map” of the vein anatomy. The provider then reviews the findings including the pros and cons of any procedural options. In addition, they review any requirements that might be required to obtain insurance coverage. Vein procedures are typically covered by insurance, provided a patient has symptoms and certain findings on the vein ultrasound. By combining the diagnostic ultrasound and the new patient consultation in one visit, patients leave with a diagnosis and treatment plan.
For people “on the fence” about whether they would benefit from vein treatment Vascular Solutions also offers free “vein screening” visits. These brief (10-minute) screening visits allow the doctor to preliminarily examine your legs, review symptoms and determine whether additional workup/evaluation is appropriate. During vein screening visits a limited ultrasound is often used to get a “sneak-peek” at the great saphenous vein, which is one of the most commonly affected veins in the legs. If appropriate, patients are invited back for a new patient consultation.
“There are millions of people who have vein problems,” Dr. Ford said. “With leg vein problems being so prevalent in society – often under-diagnosed and under-treated – there’s a lot of opportunities for me to help people.”
Reminders of home
A walk through Vascular Solutions offers subtle hints of Dr. Peter Ford’s roots in Melbourne, Australia. There’s photography of kangaroos and koalas framed on the office walls.
Katie Ford the practice manager, incorporated the aboriginal symbol for “journey” into the company’s logo to reflect her husband’s path toward becoming a vascular surgeon.
The dots reflect the path of his medical training, starting at Monash University School of Medicine, his residency at the State University of New York-Buffalo, and his fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill and his practice in Charlotte.