For Napans, access to the best in wine and food is a given.
What may surprise even the longest-time residents is that the valley also provides world-class health care. Napa County boasts two state-of-the-art hospitals, over 100 general practitioners and a multitude of specialists from orthopedists to neurosurgeons to heart surgeons and beyond.
One Napa specialist, vascular surgeon Dr. Jeff Brooks of Napa Vascular & Vein Center, has built a following for his treatment of varicose veins.
Brooks said he moved to Napa to scale back on general vascular surgery and focus on what he really enjoyed — the treatment of varicose veins.
“Early in my career, I chose vascular surgery because I enjoyed the high degree of complexity it demands. When I began treating varicose veins, it added a different type of precision that really caught my interest.”
He joined Napa Vascular & Vein Center in 2006, assuming full ownership of the practice in 2007. By 2010, Brooks restructured Napa Vascular & Vein Center to focus solely on the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins.
“My undergraduate degree from UC Davis is in civil engineering with a focus on fluid mechanics, and so the human vascular system was a good fit. I also liked doing things with my hands so I naturally gravitated toward surgery,” said Brooks.
Today, Brooks sees patients from Sonoma to Vallejo to Vacaville to Santa Rosa and Napa Valley.
“Varicose veins are more prevalent than most people realize,” said Brooks.
“I have seen patients younger than 20 and older than 90, male and female, all races and occupations,” he said.
Varicose veins can be genetic, environmental and a combination of both. “The common thread is how we treat them. In order to achieve the best outcome, each patient must be treated individually based upon his or her needs and desired results. Therein lies the challenge, and accomplishing that is very gratifying.”
So, what are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are dilated, high-pressure veins caused by incompetent internal valves, said Brooks.
Those valves are supposed to push the blood back up toward the heart. When they fail, the blood pools or congests causing discomfort and swelling. Closing the diseased veins causes the body to naturally reroute the blood to normal veins, restoring normal pressure and alleviating discomfort and swelling. There can also be considerable cosmetic improvement as well.
Treatment for varicose veins has changed dramatically in modern medicine. For almost a hundred years, procedures for varicose veins were slow and painful. It was common to surgically “strip” veins out of legs, which requires a hospital setting, significant discomfort and time to recover, the doctor said.
Medical technology has caught up with varicose veins. Specialists now have pinpoint accuracy in targeting specific veins, and minimally invasive office procedures deal with veins in minutes.
The breakthrough is catheter technology, similar to those used for heart interventions. A catheter is threaded into the vein to heat it from within and seal it off. Once the vein is sealed, the body automatically reroutes blood flow through healthier vessels. The sealed vein is eventually absorbed by the body.
A common misconception is that varicose veins are cosmetic only, rather than a medical necessity.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Brooks. “Varicose veins can cause pain, leg fatigue and result in open sores. Patients often don’t seek treatment until they can’t stand the symptoms any longer — and at that point the varicose veins are limiting their activities, negatively affecting their lifestyle.”