Venous Ulcers – Incidence and Treatment Options

Venous Ulcers

What is a Venous ulcer?

Had a minor leg injury ?  A venous ulcer may develop if there is a break in the skin and the underlying tissue of the skin is exposed to air and bacteria. In most people such an injury will heal in few days. But what happens when there is an underlying problem with blood circulation in your leg veins ? You cannot ignore the chances of developing Venous ulcers.

Poor blood circulation due to damaged valves in veins, can cause constant increase in pressure inside the veins. This can gradually damage the tiny blood vessels in your skin making it fragile. Even a small scratch can make the skin in your legs easily break and form ulcers. These are called Venous leg ulcers and these won’t heal unless the circulation is improved in your legs. Over two thirds of all leg ulcers are attributed to disease of the veins of the legs, termed as “Venous ulcers”.

How Venous disease cause ulcers?

The veins in your leg carry the blood back from the foot towards your heart. They have one-way valves which ensure the blood flows up the leg and not back down. In some people, these valves don’t work well or may be damaged by clots in the veins. If so, the blood can flow the wrong way down the veins. When you are standing, it causes very high pressure to build up in the veins. This abnormally high pressure in the veins damages the skin and leads to the ulcers.

Are you at risk of developing Venous ulcers?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing venous leg ulcers which include,

  • Varicose vein
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Obesity
  • Injury / surgery to the leg, which can prevent you from moving about
  • Old age and related diseases restricting your movements

If you are worried you have venous ulcer, talk to your doctor right away. These are not likely to heal without proper treatment. Inform your doctor about any previous illnesses, surgeries or other conditions which could trigger ulcer creation.

Diagnosis will be based on symptoms you experience and also on physical examination of the affected area, although a few tests will be needed.

Treatment for Venous Leg Ulcers

  • Proper cleaning and dressing the ulcer 

First step of treatment is to remove any debris or dead tissue from the ulcer and then apply a suitable dressing. Appropriate re-dressing at regular intervals is necessary which provides the best conditions for the ulcer to heal.

  • Compression bandages

Treatment for ulcers must ensure that the high pressure in the leg veins is controlled. To improve the circulation in your legs and eliminate any swelling developed, specially designed compression bandages need to be applied over the affected leg.

Bandages over an unhealthy ulcer is usually painful but once the ulcer starts to heal , which can happen in a few days, the pain will reduce. But it is very important to continue wearing your compression bandages as instructed.  

  • Surgery

Surgery for venous disease involves removing the defective veins from the leg. Blood is then diverted through the remaining healthy veins and thus the pressure in the veins is reduced which further helps prevent the recurrence of ulcers. Endovenous Laser ablation, a minimally invasive technique, is popular and is found very effective in treatment of ulcers related to varicose veins. 

After the healing process

Once you have had a venous ulcer, chances of another ulcer within months or years cannot be ruled out. Wearing compression stockings can help a long way in preventing such recurrences.

Have more queries on treatment options ? You can call and ask for Interventional Radiology Department in the hospital or visit our Vascular Specialist at Avis to know more about the treatment.