Vein disease can become a chronic condition if not treated. Venous ulcers — open wounds that form on the lower leg or ankle — usually appear during the last and most significant stage of venous disease.
These ulcers are slow to heal and can quickly become infected, which can lead to lower-limb amputation in severe cases, especially in people with diabetes. About 1% of Americans develop these ulcers, which are more common as you age, especially in women.
At Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute, with offices conveniently located in Dallas and Hurst, Texas, interventional radiologist Dr. Dev Batra and our expert team have extensive knowledge about the stages of chronic vein disease and the development of venous ulcers.
The team uses state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and advanced treatment options to restore your vein health. Let’s take a closer look at venous ulcers and the ways we can heal them.
Before we talk about healing venous ulcers, we need to discuss the vein problems that lead up to them.
Veins return deoxygenated blood from your body tissues to your heart. Too much pressure on a vein wall or on the vein’s one-way valves can cause damage, allowing blood to flow backward along its path. It pools around the damaged area instead of flowing back to the heart. That is known as venous insufficiency since blood flow is insufficient for your body’s needs. It can easily become chronic if not addressed.
When blood pools, small, superficial veins expand, forming thin, spiderweb-like patterns, primarily on the legs but also on the face.
Varicose veins are large superficial veins. As they engorge, they appear as ropy, colored protrusions on the legs. Not just an eyesore, they can cause pain, leg swelling, and itchiness.
Edema refers to the swelling of the leg when damaged veins leak fluid into the tissues. The fluid can irritate your muscles, leading to cramping, pain, and discomfort. The skin on your lower legs may also start to appear leathery and take on a bluish or reddish tint.
Edema can lead to venous stasis dermatitis — a change in color around your lower legs and ankles that comes from bursting blood vessels. The areas appear red- or brown-spotted due to deposits of hemosiderin — a breakdown product of hemoglobin.
Venous ulcers form when the previous stages of vein disease aren’t treated. These slow-healing open sores are easy to identify because they’re:
The wound may be relatively painless, but you may feel significant pain from the edema in the leg or any infection that’s developed.
At Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute, our primary goals for treating venous ulcers are to keep them free of infection while also resolving the edema.
We may start by debriding the tissue — scraping away dead cells and surface contamination — so the ulcer has the opportunity to heal.
Generally, we only prescribe oral antibiotics if tissue surrounding the ulcer is infected as well. You’ll need to keep the wound environment moist and change the dressings as infrequently as possible since removing the dressing removes healthy cells, too.
Most ulcers heal within 3-4 months of treatment, but the timing may vary from one person to another.
Dr. Batra also uses four treatments to heal your venous ulcers by addressing the underlying vein disease. These techniques include:
Dr. Batra discusses your options at your consultation, recommending the one he feels best meets your condition and needs.
If you’ve developed venous ulcers, or if you suspect you may have any form of vein disease, it’s time to come into Dallas Vein Institute and Texas Vascular Institute for an evaluation and treatment. Give us a call at either of our locations or book your appointment online today.