When to Seek Care from a Vascular Specialist

Alexander H. Hou MD, FACS

When to Seek Care from a Vascular SpecialistIf you removed all of the blood vessels from an adult and laid them out in a line, it would stretch to be close to 100,000 miles long.

The blood vessels help circulate blood throughout the body.

When disease or injury negatively affects the vascular system, a vascular specialist can sometimes help a patient recover through a specialized treatment plan.

What is a vascular specialist?
A vascular specialist is board certified in general surgery and then completes additional training and testing in vascular surgery. They are a specialist who can diagnose and manage disorders that affect the arteries, veins and lymphatic systems.

A vascular specialist will perform open operations, endovascular catheter-based procedures, reconstructive vascular surgery and non-invasive vascular testing and interpretations. While a vascular specialist operates on the veins and arteries, they will not operate on the heart or the blood vessels around the heart like a cardiovascular specialist would.

A vascular specialist differs from a cardiovascular specialist.

What does a vascular specialist treat?
The most common conditions a vascular specialist will treat are aortic aneurysms, atherosclerosis of the carotid artery and varicose veins.

Aneurysms are enlargements of an artery. With some aneurysms, the wall of the artery becomes progressively thin and can lead to a life-threatening rupture. A vascular specialist knows which aneurysms are likely to rupture or clot and can determine if it needs to be repaired or monitored.

Atherosclerosis is typically called “hardening of the arteries.” When this hardening happens in the carotid arteries, pieces of atherosclerotic plaque can break off and travel to the brain and cause a stroke. A vascular specialist can determine if the arteries need intervention to prevent further strokes.

Varicose veins are large, twisted veins that are visible under the surface of the skin. While ugly, varicose veins can also cause leg pain, swelling and can even lead to blood clots. A vascular specialist can develop a treatment plan to minimize the health issues caused by varicose veins. A treatment plan can include compression socks, exercising and elevating the legs. When nonsurgical treatments fail, surgery may be performed to remove varicose veins or close them off.

Other conditions a vascular specialist may treat include:
• Stroke prevention or damages caused by strokes or mini-strokes
• Vascular trauma
• Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
• Diabetic foot infection
• Venous ulcers
• Poor leg circulation
• Claudication, which happens when the legs feel painful, tired or weak

When should I see a vascular specialist?
If you have been diagnosed with or believe that you are suffering from any of the above conditions, a vascular specialist can help you determine a treatment plan that will best benefit you. Schedule a consultation with one of our vascular specialist by calling 606-324-1070.

Alexander H. Hou MD, FACS, is a skilled Board Certified and fellowship trained vascular surgeon specializing in the treatment of arterial and venous diseases employing both open and endovascular techniques. Dr. Hou is a member of Society for Vascular Surgery, a premier society for vascular surgeons, in addition to several other regional vascular societies, also a Fellow of American College of Surgeons. He has publications in several peer reviewed journals focusing on vascular diagnostic and interventions using duplex ultrasound.

Dr. Hou has been practicing in Ashland since 2005 and is known for delivering high quality vascular care exemplified by the “minimal incision” surgical technique resulting in less pain, better healing and esthetically more appeasing scars.


Vascular Institute of Kentucky

Medical Plaza A
617 23rd Street, Suite 105
Ashland, KY 41101

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