“Don’t I need my saphenous vein for future heart surgery or other reasons?”

One common question asked at Albert Vein Institute (AVI) by our patients is “Don’t I need my saphenous vein?” The function of the saphenous vein is to protect the skin veins from the mildly increased pressure in the deep veins. Unfortunately family history, pregnancy, excessive standing, and advanced age cause the saphenous vein to deteriorate. The saphenous vein is like your appendix in the sense that if it is not functioning properly then you do not need it anymore. Most varicose vein procedures involve endovenous ablation in order to gently destroy the saphenous vein.

98% of the blood returning to the heart from your legs does so through other leg veins in the deep system – so if the saphenous vein is not functioning properly, and left untreated, the venous circulation in the legs is less efficient and can lead to bigger problems. By not treating the diseased saphenous vein, you can develop uncomfortable symptoms like pain, swelling, skin changes, and non-healing wounds on your leg.

“What happens if I need a vein for heart surgery down the road?”

AVI’s practicing physician Dr. James D. Albert is a Board Certified Cardiovascular Surgeon and Board Certified Phlebologist who practiced heart surgery for more than 20 years and would never destroy a vein that could functionally be used for coronary bypass surgery. If you are having your saphenous vein treated to resolve your varicose vein problems, then this same vein would be too diseased to use for heart surgery anyway. Dr. Albert frequently identifies that the saphenous vein in patients with superficial venous insufficiency is not usable for coronary bypass. Furthermore, there are other vessels that can be used if the saphenous vein is diseased or has previously been treated.

In fact, patients who have had their saphenous vein harvested for coronary bypass surgery can still have problems with varicose veins. This difficulty can occur because only part of the saphenous vein was removed for heart surgery, while the remaining part of the vessel goes on to become diseased.

Do you have concerns about your leg veins? If so, seek evaluation from a board-certified physician specializing in today’s minimally invasive vein care – this physician should also have expertise in microsurgical procedures and/or practice with a national “Vein Center” accreditation.

About the author

Dr. James D. Albert, RPVI is the Founder and Practicing Physician of Albert Vein Institute
Dr. James D. Albert

Dr. James D. Albert, RPVI is the Founder and Practicing Physician of Albert Vein Institute (AVI)--Colorado's Vein Specialist - founded in 2006. A nationally respected Cardiovascular Surgeon and Phlebologist, Dr. Albert has led AVI to become Colorado's ONLY nationally recognized IAC ACCREDITED VEIN CENTER. Dr. Albert trained at the nation's most reputable medical institutions, holds double Board Certifications in Cardiovascular Surgery and Phlebology, and is humbled to bring 30 years of a successful surgical career to patients needing vein care.

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