Chronic venous insufficiency can lead to non-healing ulcers or open sores in the lower legs. Venous ulcers usually develop around the ankle and can vary in size from very small to several inches in diameter. While usually not very painful, venous ulcers can occasionally be quite painful or become infected.
Chronic vein disease causes a progressive inflammatory reaction that damages the capillaries and lymphatic ducts and leads to swelling caused by fluid leaking out into the tissues of the lower legs. The pigment hemoglobin inside of red blood cells is deposited in the skin and tissues of the lower leg. This iron-based pigment causes the brown, rust-colored discoloration that commonly begins around the ankle.
Damage to capillaries caused by chronic vein disease leads to low oxygen levels in the soft tissues of the lower leg. This leads to poor wound healing and chronic venous stasis ulceration. Treatment for venous ulcers in the past relied on compression therapy and wound care. While effective for healing ulcers, compression therapy alone was associated with high recurrence rate of venous ulcers. The standard of care now relies on closure of the abnormal veins causing venous insufficiency AND compression therapy. In addition to improving the rate of ulcer healing, ablation therapy drastically lowers the recurrence rate of venous ulcers. The ulcers heal more quickly and are much less likely to come back.
An ulcer is a very severe condition, requiring treatment of both the open wound and the underlying vein disease. If left untreated, the condition will progress, allowing the ulcer to get larger and possibly become infected.
There are three types of ulcers to consider if you believe you might be suffering from vein and vascular disease:
- Venous ulcer: Moist, weepy, or wet lesions on the inside or outside ankle, which may or may not be painless
- Arterial ulcer: Dry, “punched out,” and painful lesions that usually appear on the toes or feet
- Diabetic (neurotrophic) ulcer: Located on the pressure points of the foot, like the ball or the heel
It is crucial to seek medical treatment immediately for ulcers or pre-ulcerous conditions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.