Leg ulcers, also called venous ulcers, are caused by poor blood circulation in the legs. This condition is most often triggered by venous insufficiency, in which the valves of the veins that carry blood to the heart become damaged, causing the blood to back up and pool in the legs. We encourage you to learn more about the symptoms of leg ulcers and how this condition is typically treated.
Signs of Leg Ulcers
The first noticeable symptom of a potential leg ulcer is usually the red or purple patch under the skin that signifies venous insufficiency. As the blood that has leaked spreads and the spot becomes larger, your skin may thicken or become irritated. Left untreated, venous insufficiency will develop into a leg ulcer. If that occurs, your leg will feel heavy and bloated as well as achy. In some cases, the ulcer becomes infected, which leads to pus drainage and skin that’s red and hot to the touch.
Preventing Leg Ulcers from Forming
There are steps you can take to lower your risk for venous insufficiency, which in turn lowers your risk for leg ulcers. This condition is more common among people who are obese, who smoke, who lead a sedentary lifestyle without much exercise and who stand for long hours at work. Losing weight and discontinuing tobacco use, as well as increasing daily activity, can help prevent you from developing venous insufficiency.
Treatment for Leg Ulcers
If you do develop leg ulcers, treatment is essential as they can worsen and recur. Since venous insufficiency tends to worsen over time, getting early treatment is important to reduce the complications. When you notice the symptoms of leg ulcers, take steps to improve your circulation by elevating your legs with pillows above the level of your heart whenever possible, wearing compression stockings and walking each day.
Compression stockings can help improve blood flow and decrease the possibility of developing a leg ulcer. Recurrent ulcers or those that resist treatment may require antibiotics or skin grafting. In addition, vein surgery to correct insufficiency may be recommended. Our doctor can inject a special solution to collapse the damaged vein, a procedure called sclerotherapy. Another option, ablation, means that heat is used to close the damaged vein. Other surgeries may be required to reroute the veins around the blockage or open the closed vein with a stent.
When you talk to our specialists at Premier Vein Institute in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Riverview or Lakeland, you can learn more about how your leg ulcers can be treated. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.