Venous Ulcers Fort Worth, TX
At the Reeder Vein Institute our physicians have many years of experience managing venous ulcers and other types of leg vein-related problems. We will work with you and the other health professionals involved in your care to make sure you get the most complete, timely and advanced minimally invasive treatment available.
What are Venous Ulcers?
One of the most challenging problems with advanced vein disease is the occurrence of a venous ulcer, which is a sore or break in the skin. This is a sign of severe vein disease, often longstanding. The ulcer can be small or in some cases involve a large area of skin. They almost always occur in the lower leg above the ankle, often on the inner side of the leg, though they can be seen on the outer or posterior (back) of the leg. The ulcers are usually associated with an area of surrounding inflammation with redness, swelling, and tenderness of the skin and soft tissue.
We often see patients after they have had the ulcer for months, and sometimes years. They tend to heal poorly and have a high rate of recurrence if the underlying diseased veins that produce the ulcer are not recognized or treated. Venous ulcerations are always associated with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition of high venous pressure produced by failed valves in the veins.
Of course, not all skin ulcerations are caused by vein disease. Arterial insufficiency secondary to atherosclerosis, autoimmune diseases, vasculitis, and skin cancers can produce similar ulcers. A physician experienced in advanced vein disease can usually recognize this problem with examination alone. Ultrasound will confirm the presence of venous reflux and venous hypertension, the root cause of these skin lesions.
What are the warning signs?
Venous ulcers represent advanced chronic venous disease. Since chronic vein disease is usually a slowly progressive problem, there are often warning signs of advanced superficial vein disease long before the development of a venous ulcer. The most worrisome sign of impending venous ulcer is chronic inflammation (redness, itching, swelling) in the lower leg just above the ankle. The chronic inflammation leads to skin breakdown, which is a venous ulcer. Fortunately, treatment of the underlying vein disease will often reverse the chronic inflammation and frequently prevent skin ulceration.
Treatment of Venous Skin Ulcers
The initial treatment of venous ulcers is compression therapy. This is often provided with an inelastic bandage called an Unna boot. The compression provided by the Unna boot reduces the swelling (edema) in the soft tissue, and improves the venous circulation. Usually, compression alone will start the healing process in venous ulcers. Ultimately, the venous hypertension has to be corrected, which can be accomplished with minimally invasive office procedures such as endovenous radiofrequency or laser ablation, or chemical ablation with ultrasound guided sclerotherapy of the diseased veins.
It is very important to seek medical attention if you have symptoms like these:
- Swelling in the leg, with shiny, tight skin in a localized area on the leg or ankle.
- Vascular discolorations – red or otherwise discolored skin in an area on your lower leg or ankle that feels warm or hot.
- A break in the skin that is not caused by an injury (like bumping into a chair, for instance) – or any sore on the leg that is not healing quickly.
*The information about Venous Ulcers was reviewed by Board Certified Surgeon Dr. Michael Darnell. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form.