Venous Stasis Ulcers
What are Venous Stasis Ulcers?
Venous stasis ulcers are open sores in the lower leg caused by vein disease. They are one of the most troublesome complications of varicose vein disease. They typically occur between the knee and ankle, most commonly around the ankle.
When varicose veins occur, there is impairment of the normal blood flow within the leg. The valves within these veins are no longer able to prevent blood from moving up in the leg like it is suppose to. Because of the dysfunction involving these valves, blood gets ‘backed up’ or ‘stuck’ in the veins. This causes the pressure within the veins to increase. The higher pressure will, over time, cause progressive damage to the surrounding veins, skin, and soft tissue of the lower leg.
Prior to the ulcer developing, the skin in the surrounding area may become discolored. Sometimes it becomes red, brown, or purple compared to the surrounding skin. At times, the area becomes painful, itchy, or irritated, and it may swell. Other times, the skin in the area will contract and become harder or take on a leathery appearance. Overtime, the skin in the area starts to break down and opens (ulcerates). These ulcers are usually shallow and they get bigger over time. Occasionally, if there are varicosities within the ulcer, they can bleed quite a bit. Even with vein treatment, these ulcers can last months to years before healing. Once they heal, the skin in the area is weak and they are very likely to re-ulcerate in the future.
What are the symptoms of Venous Stasis Ulcers?
Are there other possible causes of Venous Stasis Ulcers?
The differentiation of these ulcers is made by a combination of evaluations, including the history and physical examination done by the clinician, lab testing/blood work as needed, and evaluation of the arterial and venous systems using specialized studies.
At the Center for Advanced Vein Care, Dr. Stiller and her staff will work together to determine the cause of the ulcer. She has received specific training in the diagnosis and care of venous ulcers and will develop an individualized treatment program for each case based on the patient’s health, medical conditions, and ability to care for the wound. The goal is to relieve the pain, speed recovery, and heal the wound.
Treatment options for all ulcers may include:
One of the most common and effective treatments for venous ulcers is the use of compression to minimize edema or swelling. Compression treatments include wearing properly fitted Class II or higher compression stockings or multi-layer compression wraps. The type of compression treatment prescribed is determined by your vein doctor based on many things, including the characteristics of the ulcer, amount of drainage from the ulcer, and the ability of the patient to participate in caring for the wound.