Wearing shorts in the summer or a fancy dress for a night out are things most people simply take for granted. Most cannot imagine a situation that would prevent them from donning shorts on a sweltering 98-degree July afternoon or a little black dress that hits just above the knee for a date or night out with the girls.
However, for people with varicose veins and venous insufficiency, these are things that individuals deal with on a daily basis—and something the Vein Center at Brinton Lake is working to change.
“Many patients don’t wear shorts,” explains Chad Brecher, M.D. “Or [they] haven’t gone to the beach in years because they are so mortified about having these large varicose veins that are very treatable.”
Unfortunately, while almost half of the U.S. population suffers from venous disease—50 to 55 percent of women and 40 to 45 percent of men—many aren’t aware of and are afraid to utilize the available options that innovative outpatient centers such as the Vein Center at Brinton Lake in Glen Mills provide.
“Many people are simply not aware that they now have really great options that are minimally invasive and usually covered by insurance” explains Kurt Muetterties, M.D., who founded the center in 2006. “I believe they often have misconceptions from past experiences when treatments were much more invasive and less effective”
Chronic venous disease, while a cosmetic issue with noticeable, bulging veins from the legs, is a medical issue that can significantly impair the quality of life, a condition resulting from decreased blood flow from the leg veins up to the heart with pooling of blood in the veins. Typically strong, one-way valves in the veins keep the blood flowing toward the heart, but when the valves become weak they don’t close properly and allow blood to flow backwards, causing the veins to become elongated, rope like, bulged and thickened.
Instead of ignoring their symptoms—aching pains, easily tired legs, leg heaviness—it is ideal for patients to get treatment as early on as possible not only for the cosmetic benefits but the health benefits as well.
At the Vein Center at Brinton Lake, the three doctors—Drs. Muetterties, Brecher and Lance Becker, M.D.—are all board certified and individually subspecialty trained, providing the most comprehensive and complete treatment for their patients.
“[We] really believe strongly that in order to treat venous disease, the approach you need to have is with a diverse skill set,” explains Dr. Becker. “With our expertise we can make the most effective treatment for the most complex diseases and minimize reoccurrence of the disease at the same time. We feel strongly that without the full complement of techniques that are offered in a center like ours, patients may not get optimal care or complete treatment.”
With their diverse background and varied training, the doctors provide a variety of services and procedures to their clients—venous ablation, ambulatory phlebectomy and injection sclerotherapy—all of which are minimally invasive and are done as outpatient procedures.
A Portable Practice
Unfortunately, while the United States has an extremely advanced health care system that has allowed practices such as this to flourish and treat patients in need, many developing countries don’t offer access to the same extensive treatment.
Realizing that this debilitating disease still exists (and, is usually more prevalent) in developing countries, Drs. Muetterties and Brecher have taken the practice on the road. They have traveled to places such as Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic to provide free venous medical care to those individuals who would have otherwise never had access to it.
“What’s wonderful about our practice is that it’s very portable,” says Dr. Muetterties. “We have technology we can transport to pretty remote areas and we can perform our procedures and treat their venous insufficiencies right there. When we arrived on the first day we show up to a Red Cross center and there are over 100 people that are lined up sleeping overnight in the pouring rain to be seen.”
In the developing countries in Central and South America where these people live, lifestyle plays a large role in the onset and progression of these conditions. Simply having to stand and work on their feet for hours and days at a time can exaggerate the underlying disease, therefore compounding the problem of not having access or knowledge of appropriate care.
“Without treatment these patients will often go on to have serious problems, problems you may not see as much of in the U.S.,” adds Dr. Brecher. “This included breakdown of the skin and infections. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t take a lot to help prevent these things. Even in the short period of time we are down there, the benefits for them are extraordinary.”
Luckily, with individuals such as Drs. Muetterties and Brecher and the foundations such as the Hackett Hemwall Foundation that sponsor the mission trips and clinics, people in developing countries are seeing more of the proper care and treatment that is necessary to improving their lives.
“It’s been extremely gratifying on a personal level to go and interact with these people in these cultures and really impact their lives,” reflects Dr. Muetterties. “The people we meet are unbelievably grateful that somebody cares enough about them to treat them and see them.”
Patients living in these faraway countries aren’t the only ones who benefit from the mission work.
“It’s a different level of severity of disease,” says Dr. Brecher. “It gives you a great appreciation of the morbidity associated with the disease. You get an appreciation for the fact that if these diseases are ignored, they never get better; they just get worse.”
Adds Dr. Muetterties: “As a physician, no matter what your specialty is, the more pathology and the more patients you see and the more interaction you have, they build your experience and help fine-tune your understanding.”
The Vein Center at Brinton Lake
300 Evergreen Drive
Glen Mills, PA 19342