Leg Ulcers


Venous ulcers are one of the more serious symptoms of venous insufficiency. This condition is characterized by open sores around the ankle, which can take many weeks or even years to completely eliminate. The venous ulcers are painful and vulnerable to infection, complicating the treatment protocol. Treatment often involves a combination of approaches, including treatment to address the underlying venous insufficiency.


Venous Ulcer Symptoms

Venous ulcers usually begin as a brown stain on the skin. Other symptoms might include:

  • Swelling of the lower leg and ankle
  • Aching or cramping of the lower leg
  • Thickening or hardening of the skin
  • A bumpy texture and appearance
  • The formation of a shallow, open sore

The earlier a venous ulcer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be. It is important to have any skin changes evaluated by a vein specialist as soon as possible, particularly if other signs of venous insufficiency like varicose veins are already present.


Venous Ulcer Causes

Venous ulcers are caused by venous insufficiency. Valves inside the veins keep blood flowing in a single direction, back to the heart. This job can be particularly challenging for the valves inside the veins of the lower legs since the valves must work against the forces of gravity to push blood back up to the chest. It is not unusual for these valves to wear out over time, resulting in blood pooling in the lower veins and swelling of the veins that lead to the formation of varicose veins.

Venous ulcers are due to impeded blood flow that prevents oxygen and nutrients from getting to the skin tissue. This process results in inflammation of the tissue, and the eventual skin changes and an open sore that characterizes venous ulcers. Once the sore is fully developed, cure rates tend to hover below 50 percent, which is why early diagnosis is essential to ensuring the most effective treatment possible.


Venous Ulcer Treatment

Treatment of venous ulcers usually involves a combination of one or more of the following options:

  • Leg elevation
  • Compression therapy
  • Antibiotics
  • Wound Dressings
  • Surgical procedures
  • Skin grafts

Wound dressings vary from compression stockings to hydrocolloid dressings that use a breathable outer layer to absorb drainage and prohibit bacteria from entering. Some physicians also use growth factors to stimulate the production of new skin and tissue in the area.

To successfully treat venous ulcers, the underlying venous insufficiency should also be addressed. At Northwest Vascular & Vein, we offer a variety of treatments for varicose veins, which are one of the most visible signs of venous insufficiency. Our procedures are minimally-invasive and involve little or no discomfort or downtime. To learn more about treatment for venous ulcers or varicose veins, contact the staff at Northwest Vascular & Vein.