Got vein pain? American Vein & Vascular Institute helps your blood go with the flowMay 19, 2023 12:56PM ● By Loring Wirbel
Veins are the body’s lifeline. But one of the physical changes aging might bring is changes in their appearance or function. Spider or varicose veins can seemingly appear or pop out of nowhere, particularly for women who have experienced multiple childbirths.
But if you assume these vein issues are merely cosmetic, think again. Treating them is caring for your health.
Gordon Gibbs and his wife Erin operate the American Vein & Vascular Institute (AVVI), a network of 10 specialized clinics with two locations in Colorado Springs. They’re considering a third in eastern El Paso County.
Gibbs worked for Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for seven years and then moved to Pueblo, where he joined a group of radiologists specializing in hospital-based medicine. His radiology training led to a specialization in vascular intervention.
Two years later, a Cañon City nurse practitioner asked Gibbs to look at some of his patients’ vein problems. Gibbs thought services might be better offered in an outpatient setting, so he rented space from Pueblo Vascular Diagnostics.
“My partners in hospital-based radiology didn’t want to buy electronic medical records or equipment,” Gibbs said.
Within a few months, both he and Erin were convinced the outpatient model could work and launched AVVI in 2009.
“When I told the radiology partners I wanted to buy back the equipment, I got a big thumbs-up,” Gibbs recalled.
And he hasn’t looked back.
“The treatment of venous disease occupies its own category of medicine, using almost a different language than radiology,” said Gibbs. “It was enough of a departure to justify dedicated clinics.”
AVVI expanded first to Denver and Cañon City before establishing the two clinics in Colorado Springs. Now, besides the 10 clinics in Colorado, there’s a satellite operation in rural Nebraska.
AVVI moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs in 2015.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF VEIN PROBLEMS
Patients may seek treatment after recognizing veins popping out, swelling, cramping, aching and leg restlessness.
Most symptoms are related to the amount of pressure inside a vein, Gibbs said. Normal veins have valves that move blood unidirectionally from the feet to the heart.
When valves become leaky, gravity pulls the blood in the wrong direction. Over time, swelling, spider veins and larger varicose veins can occur. Symptoms can overlap with restless leg syndrome or venous reflux, which is why professional diagnosis is important.
“For me, it’s easy to distinguish symptoms from more serious vein problems,” Gibbs said. “It’s a very binary test that can give patients some answers right away.”
In mild cases, clothing can make a difference. Gibbs said most patients benefit from compression socks, but may have difficulty putting them on. The clinic offers tools to help them.
Those with chronic vein problems may see more significant discoloration of the leg. Even when symptoms are mild, AVVI treats the patient proactively with procedures since scarring and discoloration can lead to ulcers and skin breakdowns.
HEALTHY LIFESTYLES HELP
Thankfully, the treatment and diagnosis of vein problems have improved greatly over the past 50 years.
Though vein problems are handled best in an outpatient clinic, when comorbidities are involved, the clinic recommends addressing all the conditions in a hospital.
Gibbs said an advantage to operating a clinic network in a healthier city like Colorado Springs is that residents tend to have more active lifestyles and better diets, thus reducing the number of comorbidities.
As they expand their network, the Gibbs seek out partners based as much on their holistic approaches to health as their vascular expertise. The institute looks for health care providers with a direct interest in patients with vein problems.
For example, a physician’s assistant in Edwards reached out to AVVI to suggest a dedicated clinic in the Vail Valley, which opened in 2012. Some ties are the result of mergers/acquisitions, like the Nebraska hospital-based clinic, which is part of an acquired Loveland operation. AVVI also maintained a clinic in San Antonio, Texas, but the provider there elected to launch his own Texas-based network, with the Gibbs’ blessing.
AVVI is beginning to expand into the treatment of peripheral arterial disease, though they are unlikely to branch out beyond vein and artery treatment in general. And they are firmly committed to their outpatient clinics, rather than trying to grow within the confines of a hospital with its complex organization and competing influences.
“I feel that it is a far better model to be a specialist where we can just stay in our lane and focus on what we do well,” Gibbs said.
Make an appointment with AVVI
7 Spectrum Loop #145
175 S. Union Blvd. #200