AT SOUTH SHORE SURGICAL SPECIALISTS
~ By Suzette Martinez Standring
About forty years ago, varicose vein surgery was invasive. Recovery was long and painful. “When I finished medical school in 1966, the average person would be hospitalized for two weeks, one week’s bed rest with elevated legs, and another week for gradual ambulation,” recalled Dr. Joseph Iovino, who formerly served as the Chief of Surgery at South Shore Hospital for eight years.
All that has changed. Today’s treatments are almost painless and often, the patient can return to work the same day. The Vein Center is now a specialty practice of South Shore Surgical Specialists, which is located at 780 Main Street, third floor, in South Weymouth.
At The Vein Center, Dr. Joseph Iovino and Dr. Giovanni Ferrante are accomplished doctors dedicated to venous disease. Dr. Iovino, a vascular surgery specialist, has been in active practice since 1973 and is board certified in general surgery. A decorated Army veteran, he graduated from Boston University (1962) and Boston School of Medicine (MD, 1966), completing his internship and surgical residency at Boston City Hospital (1973).
Dr. Ferrante has specialized in general and vascular surgery since 1987. He is a graduate of Harvard University (1976) and Stanford School of Medicine (MD, 1981). He completed his General Surgery residency at Stanford Medical Center (1986) and a fellowship in Vascular Surgery at UMass Worcester (1987). Practicing at South Shore Hospital since then, Dr. Ferrante served as Medical Staff President and as President of the District Medical Society.
Since 2006, Dr. Iovino has limited his practice to venous procedures at South Shore Surgical Specialists. He believed adding The Vein Center, which officially opened on January 2, 2012, would be beneficial to many. Elsewhere for years, vein surgery had been performed by a variety of general or vascular surgeons, OB-GYN or plastic surgery doctors. “But we wanted to bring it under one roof, to standardize care, and to give patients easy access to this type of therapy,” said Dr. Iovino. The Vein Center also offers an ease of referral for patients from nearby South Shore Hospital.
About 80 million Americans suffer various forms of venous disease. Heredity is the main factor, and women (25-33%) are more affected than men (10-20%). Varicose veins (large and ropey) are the most common, followed by reticular veins (cluster) and spider veins (thin). Varicose veins cause throbbing, aching, swelling or severe pain. The condition is caused by a malfunction of valves that draw blood to the legs, where it pools in the veins, causing them to become enlarged. Sometimes if left untreated, varicose veins can result in bleeding, slow-healing skin conditions, or ulcers on the legs or ankles. Dr. Iovino handles many such referrals from the new Wound Care Center at South Shore Hospital. “The cause is underlying venous disease. This is what we treat.”
Debra Cardarelli, LPN, a nurse since 1982, has worked at South Shore Surgical Specialists for fifteen years. Her long time experience is soothing. “People are afraid of what they don’t know. Dr. Iovino is very good at explaining everything. I tell them it’s easier than visiting the dentist. Afterwards they realize it’s a piece of cake,” she said.
Yet many will wait ten to fifteen years to seek treatment, compelled only by increased pain. Why the delay? Dr. Iovino suspects it might be a fear of painful procedures or prolonged time away from work. Such worries are unfounded given modern medical technology.
Vein ablation is a one-hour procedure where the saphenous vein, the source feeding varicose veins, is slowly closed by inserting a small catheter. Sometimes the manual removal of large veins, “vein stripping,” is done under general or local anesthesia at nearby South Shore Hospital. Medicare and most insurance plans will cover treatments for varicose veins.
Less serious but sometimes painful are reticular veins. They can appear as blue or red clusters under the skin, and feed much thinner “spider veins.” Inoperable but not painful, spider veins are considered more of a cosmetic issue and treatment is not covered by insurance. Sclerotherapy, a 30-minute treatment, involves injections of a salt solution to the base of the veins to help them disappear.
Ten years ago Lisa Arnold, 42, had this procedure done. Employed at South Shore Surgical Specialists since 2000, she is now the practice administrator. “I had a cluster of pink and blue veins on my legs. They looked like a bruise. I’m a redhead and have very fair skin. I felt they were ugly and I couldn’t cover them up.” Following Sclerotherapy treatments, the cluster veins disappeared permanently after about three months. “It makes me feel less self-conscious,” said Arnold.
The Vein Center has been a rewarding experience for Dr. Iovino who summed it up. “People come in here with painful, disfigured legs. To do non-invasive procedures that treat and heal their conditions in a very short time is gratifying. It is truly instant gratification.”
Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Gastroesophageal Reflux and Hiatus Hernia
Inguinal Hernia Repair
Umbilical Hernia Repair
Ventral Hernia Repair
Aortic Aneurysm Repair (AAA)
Cerebrovascular Disease and Carotid Artery Surgery
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Vein Wave Procedure
VNUS Procedure (article)
Venous Stasis Disease
Sclerotherapy (Injection) of