Vein Doctor Explains Risks for Venous Ulcers

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014   |   Revised: March 5, 2014

Over time, higher-than-normal risk factors for developing venous ulcers emerge in some patients. Knowing what causes these ulcers and who is at elevated risk for developing them can help you get the proper advice from a vein doctor and treatment at a vein clinic.

What is a Venous Ulcer?

It’s damage, including loss of skin, that occurs above a person’s ankle. This type of open sore is common on the legs. Many patients become frustrated because these sores are sometimes hard to heal and tend to recur in some people. Vascular surgeons are the specialists who treat venous ulcers at a vein clinic.

According to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, patients who suffer from venous insufficiency face an elevated risk of developing venous ulcers. This insufficiency is a chronic disorder. In patients who suffer from it, blood travels abnormally upward through veins to the heart.

When damage occurs to specialized valves that normally close to keep blood from flowing backward, the result is venous insufficiency. As the condition of the valves breaks down, blood flows or leaks toward the feet.

This process increases pressure and stretches a vein. As blood pools in the vessels of the lower legs, blood pressure there rises, resulting in vein inflammation. Experiencing venous insufficiency over a long period is particularly important in developing venous ulcers.

The most frequent early sign of insufficiency is swollen ankles. Some patients also experience swelling in their calves and feet. Many report a dull ache, cramping or a feeling of heaviness in their legs and feet that worsens after standing. Brown patches of skin that eventually flake or harden can turn into venous ulcers if left untreated as skin and soft tissue around the affected veins become damaged.

Michigan vein doctors typically use duplex ultrasound to look for damage to the structure of veins that could signal venous insufficiency.

Lowering Risk Factors

The most important step in preventing and healing a venous ulcer is causing vein pressure to fall to a normal level. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that the most conservative treatment to manage venous insufficiency includes:

  • Wearing compression stockings to cut swelling
  • Avoiding sitting or standing for extended periods
  • Elevating the affected leg while sitting

Vascular surgeons also suggest avoiding topical antibiotics like neomycin, lanolin, benzocaine or other products that numb your skin and drying lotions like calamine.

Michigan vein treatment for many patients includes endovenous thermal ablation, a procedure done in a vein clinic under a local anesthetic to restore venous sufficiency. It provides quick relief from discomfort. Vascular surgeons also sometimes treat small veins near a venous ulcer with sclerotherapy. This procedure uses a tiny needle guided by ultrasound to inject a solution into a small vein, causing it to seal shut and eventually resorb into the body.

For a stubborn venous ulcer, it might be necessary for a vein doctor to surgically debride the wound to speed healing.

Your vascular health is our priority. Call Michigan Vein Care Specialists today to schedule your initial vein screening and get an expert opinion on your risk factors for vascular disease.

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