Vascular surgeons specialize in providing surgical care for conditions that affect our veins, arteries, and other blood vessels, performing operations to remove plaque or prevent heart disease.

Watch an Overview of Vascular Surgery

About Vascular Surgery

Vascular surgery is a medical specialty that provides operative and surgical care for those suffering from a wide range of vascular injuries, complications and diseases. Vascular surgeons are capable of performing operations on all parts of the vascular system, also known as the circulatory system, which includes arteries, veins, capillaries and the lymphatic system. The vascular system allows the body to circulate blood, carrying oxygen, nutrients and antibodies to the necessary organs and points throughout the body. The vascular system also plays an important role in the regulation of body temperature, as well as affecting other bodily systems including the respiratory system, the kidneys and urinary system, and the digestive system. Because the vascular system is vital to so many processes of the body, vascular surgeons play a key role in saving lives and increasing the quality of life in patients.

Vascular surgeons perform nearly all surgeries relating to veins and arteries, save for the vessels within the heart and brain – these are typically performed by cardiothoracic surgeons and neurosurgeons, respectively. Vascular surgeons are capable of performing a multitude of surgical modalities, including open surgeries, endovascular surgeries and some forms of medical therapy. Procedures performed by vascular surgeons include: operations to prevent strokes; endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR) or open AAA repair to treat aneurysms; sclerotherapy , vein stripping, and others to treat varicose veins; carotid stenting or endarterectomy to treat carotid stenosis; as well as many other procedures to treat a wide range of complications. Vascular surgeons may be called upon to perform emergency operations when patients suffering from severe trauma require the expertise of a vascular specialist.

Vascular Surgery Education & Training

The education and training required to become a vascular surgeon begins with the completion of an undergraduate degree, usually focused on the sciences and mathematics. Following undergraduate study, the student must complete an MD or DO degree, which is a four year program of study at an accredited medical school. After completing medical school, the student must apply for and complete residency training in general surgery.

General surgery residencies consist of clinical rotations throughout different hospitals, exposing the physician to a wide range of surgeries and techniques. During the residency, the physician gain valuable clinical experience in areas such as critical care and trauma, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, and hand surgery, among others in general surgery. Following the completion of a successful residency, the physician must complete fellowship training.

Fellowships in vascular surgery are generally last one to two years and provide the surgeon with the necessary training and experience to perform the various open surgical procedures. These may include both vascular and endovascular surgical procedures, as well as vascular therapies. Vascular surgeons are trained in open surgery, as well as minimally invasive procedures. Following completion of a fellowship, the surgeon must gain state licensure and will often seek board certification from the American Board of Surgery before practicing.