Veins are thin vessels that transport blood from the body back to the heart. Veins contain valves that act like gates providing a continuous forward flow of blood. When valves become weakened and incompetent they allow blood to flow backwards and pool in the lower extremity. This pooling of blood stretches the skin and can lead to the development of venous ulcers.
Clinically, venous ulcers present as shallow irregular ulcers located over bony prominences. Varicosities, edema and skin discolorations are common findings associated with venous ulcers. Risk factors for developing venous ulcers are older age, obesity, previous leg blood clots, and history of leg swelling.
Treatment options include:
Debridement – can be sharp (with a blade or curette), enzymatic (topical ointments that are applied and eat away at the dead skin), mechanical debridement (wound scrub). Debridement aids in removal of dead and unhealthy tissue that hinders the healing process.
Compression – there are two types of compression, inelastic and elastic. Unna boot is an example of inelastic compression. Unna boots provide static compression and aids in removing excess fluid from the lower extremities. It contains zinc an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agents and calamine lotion to sooth skin irritation. Compression stockings are an example of elastic compression. Compressions stockings should provide at least 30mmHg of compression to aid in moving blood up the legs and reduce edema.
Skin grafting – to help close non-healing wounds, improve function and appearance of the leg
Surgery – to remove insufficient veins to prevent recurrence of venous ulcers
For treatment of venous ulcers please visit us at Foot & Ankle Doctors, Inc