Surgical Specialists of Colorado

Vascular Surgery

A vascular surgeon is a doctor who is highly trained to provide care for the vascular system and those diseases and conditions that are related to the blood vessels. Vascular surgery encompasses the entire vascular system in the body. Vascular conditions are variable, and it is a common misconception that these conditions, such as aneurysms or hardening of the arteries only affect the elderly. That is simply not true, as these conditions can and do affect individuals as young as thirty years old.

The vascular system is made up arteries and veins that carry blood throughout the body. As people age the arteries tend to get thicker, stiffer and more narrow due to a build -up of cholesterol or plaque. This creates a risk for a heart attack, or stroke when the same conditions exist in the arteries of the brain

When individuals are at risk for these conditions, primary care doctors try their best to work with them on lifestyle modifications that can reduce the risk factors for vascular disease. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even genetics are common risk factors.

When lifestyle modifications are not enough, a vascular surgeon may be called upon to evaluate and treat these conditions electively before they become life-threatening.

Vascular surgery is very complex, and patients should seek out a specialist who is specifically trained in caring for all aspects of the vascular system. Vascular surgeons are specialist in opening artery blockages, repairing veins to improve circulation, treatment of aneurysms and helping patients who experience trauma that affects the vascular system. There are many different approaches a surgeon can take to solve a problem. Individuals should be mindful of this and look for a specialist who has experience in all areas. Individuals who seek out a board-certified vascular surgeon will have a doctor who is trained in many types of procedures, not just the balloon or stent procedures. At Surgical Specialists of Colorado, Dr Franco Rea is a board-certified vascular surgeon who specializes in treating the entire vascular system.

A vascular surgeon is an expert in treating the entire circulatory system and vascular diseases can present across the veins and arteries throughout the body. There is a wide variation in the patient population that is seen by a vascular surgeon. At Surgical Specialist of Colorado, we combine the skill of a vascular surgeon with the most recent medical advancements to provide the most advanced care for our patients. Most individuals that undergo vascular procedures can expect a short hospital stay and excellent outcomes.

The links below contain more information on vascular diseases and their treatment.

Vascular disease

It is estimated that more than 78 million Americans are affected by vascular disease. High blood pressure or hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, and genetics all play a role in the development of these conditions. While there are a multitude of vascular conditions, the most commonly treated at Surgical Specialists of Colorado include:

  • Aneurysms
  • Atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Carotid artery disease (CAD)

One of the most common conditions seen by the vascular surgery team at Surgical Specialists of Colorado are aneurysms. Smoking, high blood pressure, and genetics can all predispose an individual to an aneurysm, which is a bulge in an artery. In this condition, an abnormally weak area develops in the artery or vein and each time the heart beats it causes pressure in the weakened area of the artery wall, which can cause the aneurysm to grow. To treat this, a surgeon may place a surgical stent or perform a graft to strengthen the wall. Patients are generally in the hospital for 1 to 2 days and asked to refrain from strenuous activity for two weeks

Atherosclerosis – Hardening of the Arteries

This condition is commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries. When plaque builds up inside the arteries a patient is often diagnosed with atherosclerosis. The plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol or calcium, which is found in the blood. This build-up of plaque eventually leads to a narrowing in the artery. Often patients report chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating, weakness or dizziness as the symptoms they experience from a clogged or blocked artery. There are many tests available to detect atherosclerosis and identify the blockage at the early stages – from simple blood tests and ultrasound to an angiogram or ankle-brachial index.

When individuals have pain or cramping in the legs from walking or exercising, they may be experiencing signs of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Although some individuals will not have any signs or symptoms at all, this condition is often a pre-cursor for heart attack or stroke. PAD is a manifestation of atherosclerosis in the lower extremities.

Carotid Artery Disease (CAD), on the other hand, is caused by plaque build-up in the carotid arteries of the neck. When these vessels are clogged it can affect the delivery of blood to the brain and head. With each of these conditions, early intervention is important. A vascular surgeon can clean out the affected artery, offer a stent, angioplasty or even a bypass to address the condition. If left untreated these conditions can lead to a heart attack or even stroke. Individuals who undergo vascular surgery often have 1 – 2 nights in the hospital and excellent outcomes post-operatively.

Our Vascular Surgeons