Managing Venous Ulcers
Venous ulcers occur when an individual’s venous valves malfunction. These valves are incredibly important, as they are what allows blood to circulate throughout the body and back to the heart. However, complications such as venous ulcers can arise when this blood flow is interrupted or becomes insufficient.
How Do Venous Ulcers Develop?
The most common kind of venous ulcer is known as a venous stasis ulcer, which typically appear in the lower leg or just above the ankle.
Normally, your veins help blood to travel from the legs up to the heart. If this system is malfunctioning, then blood begins to pool within the lower extremities. As pressure builds up in these veins from insufficient blood flow, it becomes difficult for oxygen and nutrients to flow to surrounding tissues. After these tissues become deprived for a significant period of time, they begin to deteriorate, leading to necrosis and venous ulceration.
Symptoms of Venous Ulcers
Some individuals may be more prone to developing a venous ulcer than others, especially if they:
- Are of a mature age
- Have sustained a leg or vein injury in the past
- Are obese
All of these factors can have a large impact on the circulatory system. This system may even be so damaged that a simple cut or scrape could potentially lead to venous ulcers, which are typically characterized by:
- An unpleasant odor
- Spontaneous bleeding
- Oozing of the wound
Oddly enough, many patients have falsely believed these venous ulcers to be a spider bite, as they present similar physical signs and symptoms. However, unlike a spider bite, a venous ulcer will not heal on its own. These ulcers will continue to exist, and will certainly worsen, unless the patient receives proper treatment.
How to Treat a Venous Ulcer
If a venous ulcer has progressed to a severe stage, the affected area may contain lots of necrotic (dead) tissue. Treating this wound will begin with removing such tissue in order to promote the growth of healthy tissue in its place.
Another serious concern is whether or not the site is infected. Antibiotics will be used to treat a venous ulcer infection, though it is important for the patient to keep the ulcer as clean as possible to prevent a recurring infection.
Ideal maintenance for a venous ulcer includes keeping the area moist, while changing bandages or other dressing as infrequently as possible so as not to disrupt the growth of new, healthy skin.
For exceptionally large venous ulcers, the patient may require a skin graft. Other extreme cases may involve surgical treatments like vein stripping.
One of the best possible things that patients can do for themselves is to see a vein specialist before a venous ulcer gets out of hand. It can be fairly difficult to reverse the effects of a severe venous ulcer, as the recovery process takes months, or possibly even years to complete.
If you want to be proactive about your circulatory health, it is advised to make a few lifestyle adjustments, such as:
- Do not smoke, as this is a significant contributor toward the formation of blood clots
- Monitor the legs and feet for any new sores or discoloration
- Avoid extreme cold or extreme heat
- Elevate your legs when possible
- Make sure to wear shoes that fit appropriately and do not rub against your feet
- Do not sit or stand for long periods of time
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Maintain a proper diet and regular exercise
The Vein Specialists at The Vein Center at Brinton Lake
The physicians at the Vein Center at Brinton Lake have extensive experience treating the most severe forms of vein disease. Using a combination of procedures, the abnormal pressures within the veins can be relieved and the ulcers healed.
To speak with one of our vein specialists about your concerns regarding the treatment or prevention of venous ulcers, please call our area office at (610) 579-3516.