Venous ulcers are notoriously painful and excruciatingly frustrating to deal with. Not only do they escalate in terms of severity, but they also limit your body’s ability to heal the ulcer effectively since the blood supply to the areas is less than ideal.
It’s natural for someone dealing with this condition to have questions about the disease and the treatments that will follow, but most medical professionals are not willing to take their time and educate their patients. Luckily, Tennessee Vein Center is not only willing to take that time, we want to make it as accessible as possible — even if you haven’t had the chance to come by our office yet.
So here it is: the guide to everything you need to know as a patient about venous ulcers.
What Are Venous Ulcers?
Let’s start with the most straightforward question: what are they? Venous ulcers are pretty simple to understand, despite wreaking so much havoc on our health and happiness. They are essentially just simple ulcers located on the leg and caused by poor blood circulation in the surrounding areas. Ulcers, using an uncomplicated explanation, are sores that do not heal quickly and are often recurring.
What Does a Venous Ulcer Look Like?
Because they are slow to heal, venous ulcers have a very abrupt appearance on the skin. There is often a central point where an open wound originates, but the development of skin discoloration and damage around the wound is fairly common. While open wounds do not always develop, you can generally always expect to see discoloration and other forms of skin damage in the area.
What Are the Main Causes of Venous Ulcers?
Venous ulcers generally develop when damage has occurred to the valves inside the leg veins. This system of valves regulates the blood pressure throughout our entire body, and it is very noticeable when the system fails.
There are many common conditions that can cause venous ulcers to develop or put a person at a higher risk. One of the most common conditions is obesity, which increases the amount of pressure and strain on leg veins. Varicose veins left untreated are often a precursor to venous ulcers since they are both caused by problematic valves. Bone injuries, surgeries and specific procedures can also increase your risk factor.
How Serious Are Venous Ulcers?
If left untreated, venous ulcers can be deadly. They can become infected, causing severe pain, green or unpleasant discharge, severe swelling and redness or a high fever. Those are the most severe symptoms, but they can also lead to more minor conditions like swollen ankles, discoloration, hardened skin, aching or heaviness in the legs, redness, flakiness, itchiness or scaliness.
What's the Fastest Way to Heal a Venous Ulcer?
You should always have your venous ulcer treated by a medical professional. Otherwise, you could be risking severe infection and even death. There are certain preliminary steps that your professional will take regardless of what treatment you have performed. That includes cleaning the ulcer thoroughly and dressing with clean bandaging. This can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing infection and other more severe side effects. Compression and the treatment of mild side effects is the next step.
Unfortunately, most patients find the “at-home” remedies to be unsuccessful since they can rarely treat the cause of the venous ulcer rather than just alleviate symptoms. This is why we always ask anyone with this condition to seek immediate help before the disease has progressed too far.
What Are the Best Treatments for Venous Ulcers?
Our preferred treatment is to do a detailed ultrasound to map out all of the veins that are not functioning. The next step is to address them with minimally invasive procedures, including endovenous laser or radiofrequency ablation. We would then follow that up with ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy.
Is There a Permanent Solution to Venous Ulcers?
It is possible to treat problematic veins permanently, but once someone has been predisposed to venous ulcers, it is possible to have new ones develop. Medical maintenance and preventative measures like walking, leg elevation, compression garments and specific exercises can help keep away future cases from developing.
What Is a Venous Stasis Ulcer?
A venous stasis ulcer is just another name for a venous ulcer. They are also often referred to as varicose, insufficiency or stasis ulcers. Stasis means to stand still, which is a reference to the blood not moving correctly through the veins, and insufficiency references the lack of oxygenated blood supply. Varicose is a medical term that means the swelling of veins, primarily in the legs.
Why Are Venous Ulcers So Painful?
The cause of a venous ulcer is poor blood flow and increased pressure on the vein. That pressure caused pain itself, but when the condition gets bad enough to create an open wound, patients are met with a double-edged source of pain. The poor blood flow puts increased pressure on the wound, making it much more tender and sensitive.
The pain worsens even more because healing in this area is considerably declined since strong blood flow — and the flow of healing factors — is reduced. Unfortunately, with no home remedies, it is a condition many people choose to deal with for a long time before seeking treatment with a professional who could work to alleviate that pain immediately.
Can Venous Ulcers Cause Death?
The short and unfortunate answer is yes. Venous ulcers are highly susceptible to infection because of the location they develop on, the open wounds and their inability to heal themselves in many patients. Infection is perilous and needs to be handled immediately — if not, it can spread and put someone’s life in danger.
How Do I Clean a Venous Ulcer?
If your doctor has cleared you to clean the ulcer at home (after a procedure has been performed), then there are some simple things you can remember to make sure home cleaning goes smoothly.
- You want to use clean materials. Use a fresh washcloth, cotton swabs or paper towels each time you clean the ulcer, and always use new bandaging after it has been cleaned.
- You want to be extremely light to the touch. Removing loose or dead skin and debris is the goal, and you can achieve it with a gentle circular motion. Too much pressure, and you risk breaking more skin or damaging the wound even more. The same goes for the water and soap you use — make sure the water is lukewarm and soap is gentle.
- You should leave the deeper cleans to your medical professionals. Harsher chemicals or soaps can be used, but to make sure you maximize your chances for a speedy recovery, it is easier to leave those deeper dives to the experts.
Expert Venous Ulcer Treatment in Alcoa, TN
At Tennessee Vein Center, we want to put an open call out to the entire community. We invite anyone who has venous ulcers — or anyone who might think they have a venous ulcer — to our office for treatment. With over 270 reviews and a perfect 5-star rating, you can be confident that Dr. Campbell and Tennessee Vein Center are ideally suited to treat your venous ulcers.
If you would like to get started, give our office a call at (865) 233-5858. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our team give you a call back as soon as possible!