Do you have venous stasis ulcers? A leg ulcer is a wound on the leg that doesn’t heal for several weeks, and venous stasis ulcers, also known as venous ulcers, are the most common type of leg ulcer. In fact, about 90 percent of leg ulcers are venous stasis ulcers.
So, what causes venous stasis ulcers? There are several different things that can cause venous stasis ulcers. Venous insufficiency is a major cause because it allows blood to flow backward and pool in the veins in your legs. Ulcers can also be caused by venous hypertension and other circulatory problems. The increased pressure in the veins can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in your skin. This makes the skin fragile and easy to damage. Varicose veins can cause venous ulcers, as blood leaks out of weakened veins into the surrounding tissue. Ulcers can also be caused by diabetes, kidney failure, infections, and inflammatory diseases, as well as certain medications. Obesity is another cause of venous stasis ulcers.
Venous ulcers are usually located on the ankle or calf. If you’re developing venous ulcers, you might experience leg swelling and cramping, a dull ache or feeling of heaviness in the leg, itching, and tingling, with red-colored skin. Sometimes, there are signs of pooling blood, like dark red, purple, and brown spots where the skin is hard. The borders of the ulcers can be unevenly shaped, and the skin surrounding them may be shiny and tight, as well as warm or even hot to the touch. Venous stasis ulcers are painful and red, but sometimes they’re covered with yellow, fibrous tissue. There is sometimes drainage and discharge, particularly in people with a history of varicose veins and leg swelling.
Treatment of venous stasis ulcers can vary. How these ulcers are treated depends on how severe the ulcers are and what’s causing them. For some patients, who have only mild signs of venous disease, venous ulcers are treated with local wound care. The skin infections associated with venous ulcers may be treated with antibiotics, and over-the-counter medication can help with the discomfort and inflammation. In some cases, your vein care specialist may perform a procedure called debridement, in which dead and damaged tissue is removed from the area around the ulcer. This allows the body to replace these damaged cells with healthy, new tissue and will help the wound to heal properly.
For patients who frequently experience venous ulcers, as well as those with uncomfortable or unsightly varicose veins, more permanent treatment options may be recommended. These treatments are used to eliminate diseased vein that is the source of the ulcers. When the damaged vein is either sealed or removed from the body, it can no longer affect the circulation, and new ulcers won’t form. Talk to your vein specialist about treatments that will prevent future ulcers and protect your skin from potential infections and slow-healing wounds. Options for permanent treatment include:
- Endovenous ablation: This is the most common method for treating varicose veins. Typically, radiofrequency ablation is used, performed under a local anesthetic. A vein specialist inserts a catheter into a vessel, directing heat towards the vein and closing them. Sometimes, the heat is replaced with medication, and that’s called chemical ablation.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy: During this multi-step process, a variety of examinations and diagnostic tools are used to determine which veins are problematic. The physician will also look for clots and deep veins to make sure of the right course of treatment. During the phlebectomy, the affected veins will be treated and outlined, after which the doctor will inject local anesthesia under the skin and remove the bulging veins, using small incisions.
Chronic venous stasis ulcers can be difficult and costly to treat, so it’s smart to learn how to prevent venous stasis ulcers. Improving your circulation can help. Your vein specialist may recommend wearing compression hose or elevating your legs. It may also help to take short walks or work other light physical activity into your daily schedule. Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight can help, as can avoiding smoking. Smoking can negatively impact your circulation as well as causing sores to heal more slowly. If you’re prone to ulcers, try not to injure your legs.
Whether you have venous stasis ulcers, varicose veins, or some other sign of vein disease, you can trust the quality of care you’ll receive at Premier Vein & Vascular Center. Our experienced and skilled team specializes in treating vein disease, not just to improve your comfort level but also to help you find long-term positive results. At our two clinics in the Houston and Cypress area, our board-certified doctors use the latest advances in vascular treatment to address the underlying cause of your symptoms. Contact us through our website or call 832-321-5355 to schedule a free vein screening and consultation.