Mary Ann Eck, PA-C
Mary Ann Eck, PA-C, is a physician assistant who earned her degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia in 2004. She began her career working in primary care and transitioned to the field of vascular surgery in 2007. When she joined USA in 2017, she initially worked in the clinic, took call, rounded at the hospital, and scheduled surgical procedures. In 2017, she began working the USA Vein Center where she evaluates patients, obtains appropriate imaging studies and schedules follow up with the surgeons for endovascular treatment of incompetent veins. She also assesses patients after their procedures to monitor their recovery.
“I’m generally the first person a patient sees when they come to USA for problems with their veins. First, I do a history and physical, listen to symptoms, look at their legs and determine what vein study is appropriate for their situation,” says Mary Ann. “Many times, we do a venous reflux study, which measures the increased pressure in the veins from valve dysfunction – that leads to varicose veins, swollen legs, skin break down, and even infection or wounds.”
The time spent with Mary Ann serves as a baseline that the surgeons use when determining the proper treatment. It’s during this time she starts the patients wearing compression socks to prepare them for a procedure if necessary.
“For people with incompetent veins or superficial veins in the legs, they may need a radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that uses radiofrequency to heat the vein from inside to seal it shut and take the vein out of circulation,” says Mary Ann. “This forces the blood to flow away from the incompetent vein toward healthier veins which improves a patient’s overall blood flow.
“The way we treat our circulatory system directly affects our overall health, and what we do every day affects how well the system works. First, the arterial supply must be intact to provide freshly oxygenated blood to the tissues. Then the venous return from the extremities must be efficient. If there’s failure in either the arterial supply or the venous return, the tissues of the extremities suffer. When the veins fail, blood flow from the tissues slows; increased venous pressure makes the veins stretch (varicose veins), causes the soft tissues to retain fluid (swelling), the legs ache, the skin stretches, itches, darkens, and may even ulcerate,” says Mary Ann. “Venous disease is progressive, but if we can slow that progression with procedures that redirect flow from inefficient veins to competent veins, the health of the tissues improve, and the person feels better. And helping patients feel better every day is why we are here.”
When asked about why she chose to become a physician assistant and work in the field of vascular health, she’s quick to point out how important the circulatory system is to the health of every person – every task, chemical reaction, and electrical circuit in our bodies depend on excellent circulation for optimal performance.“I love being a PA because I get to educate people on their conditions and help them understand and manage their own health better,” says Mary Ann. “In the process, I share a bit of my life, passion, and wisdom with them, and they share theirs with me. There is no better job on earth.”
The Vein Center at University Surgical Associates specializes in the treatment of vein disease including varicose veins, spider veins, pelvic vein congestion, and venous stasis disease. All treatments are done in a pleasant and convenient outpatient setting, plus we offer conscious sedation for maximum comfort during most vein procedures. Take a free online vein assessment or call (423) 267-0466 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.