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Skin Ulcers Overview

Skin Ulcers Overview

Also known as: venous ulcerations, venous ulcers, venous stasis ulcers, leg ulcers, postphlebitic ulcer.

Skin ulcers are open wounds that develop on the skin, typically on the lower legs or ankles. These ulcers are often caused by underlying venous insufficiency, which leads to poor circulation and increased pressure in the veins of the legs.

Progression & Prognosis:

Skin ulcers can worsen over time if left untreated, leading to complications such as infection, cellulitis, or even gangrene in severe cases. Proper management and treatment can help promote healing and prevent recurrence. However, healing can be slow and may require ongoing care and monitoring.

Illustration of legs with skin ulcers

Risk Factors & Underlying Conditions

  • Venous insufficiency: Damage to the valves in the leg veins, leading to poor circulation and increased pressure in the veins.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Blood clots in the deep veins of the legs can disrupt blood flow and contribute to the development of skin ulcers.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can put additional pressure on the veins and increase the risk of venous insufficiency.
  • History of leg injury or trauma: Previous injury or trauma to the legs can damage the veins and impair circulation, increasing the risk of ulcers.
  • Age: The risk of developing skin ulcers increases with age, as the veins may become less elastic and efficient over time.

Symptoms

  • Discolored feet
  • Discolored legs
  • Darkened skin near ankles
  • Swelling in feet
  • Swelling in ankles
  • Leathery skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Leg cramping
  • Leg heaviness
  • Leg swelling
  • Leg tiredness
  • Leg achiness
  • Foot pain
  • Retention of fluid
  • Slow healing wounds on legs
  • Slow healing wounds on feet
  • Bulging, varicose veins
  • Warmth in legs
  • Redness in legs
  • Pain with prolonged standing

Specialized clinics like VIC Vein Clinic offer comprehensive care and expertise for the most effective management of skin ulcers.

Contact us today. No referral needed.

Treatments for Skin Ulcers

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, elevating the legs when possible, and avoiding prolonged periods of standing or sitting, can help prevent skin ulcers from recurring.

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)

Endovenous laser therapy, also known as endovenous laser ablation, is an outpatient procedure that uses heat from a laser to reduce varicose veins and other common vein problems. After identifying the source of vein damage via ultrasound, a thin laser beam is used to cauterize and close the offending vein. This procedure is performed through a simple needle puncture under local anesthesia and takes roughly 20-45 minutes.

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a revolutionary and minimally invasive approach to treating significant varicose veins, replacing the need for stripping and removal procedures. This outpatient treatment utilizes heat to close off dysfunctional veins. A thin, flexible catheter is inserted into the targeted vein under ultrasound guidance for precise placement. Radiofrequency energy is then delivered through the catheter, gently heating the vein wall with the help of cool saline and lidocaine solution for comfort, causing the vein to close. The entire procedure typically takes only 10-15 minutes, and most patients can return to their daily activities as soon as the next day.

Superficial Vein Removal

Superficial veins are often very thick and ropey in appearance, and they can grow large over the years. Additionally, the skin over these veins may have a darkened, more pigmented appearance due to chronic inflammation and the pressurized veins.

High Ligation

High ligation is a surgical procedure that involves tying off a damaged vein to redirect blood flow, and vein stripping refers to the removal of the damaged vein. In cases of advanced venous disease, our vascular surgeons may recommend high ligation and vein stripping as an outpatient procedure at a regional hospital. This procedure requires general anesthesia and is less commonly performed than other minimally invasive options, but it does have a high success rate and is the best option in some individual cases.

Compression Stockings

Compression stockings offer a cost-effective and efficient method to enhance blood circulation in the lower extremities. With daily use, compression stockings can alleviate symptoms, enhance blood flow, and reduce the likelihood of blood clots forming. These stockings are suitable for both short-term and long-term use, as well as post-surgery recovery.

Other Treatments Include

  • Varithena
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Iliac Vein Stenting
  • Intravascular Ultrasound
  • Venogram
  • Venoplasty
  • Venous Thrombectomy for DVT
  • Venclose
  • Phlebectomy
  • Endovenous Ablation

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