Some people with venous insufficiency develop stasis ulcers (also known as venous ulcers or leg ulcers). Fluid buildup due to poor vein function can cause an open sore (stasis ulcer) to develop on the skin. These wounds can be difficult to treat and may take a while to heal. Here we will offer advice on how to treat and prevent stasis ulcers.
What Causes a Stasis Ulcer?
Stasis ulcers are a complication of venous insufficiency, which is a health condition that affects the veins. Healthy vein valves normally help blood return to the heart, but the vein valves in people with venous insufficiency are damaged or weakened. This can lead to blood pooling in the legs instead of flowing back toward the heart. The resulting fluid buildup beneath the skin can damage the skin layer, causing a stasis ulcer to develop.
What Do Stasis Ulcers Look Like?
Stasis ulcers are commonly located on the lower legs, usually just above the ankles. They are shallow, open wounds with uneven borders, and they can vary in size and shape. The base of the sore will be red, sometimes with an overlay of yellow tissue. The surrounding skin may discolor (often becoming dark red, purple, brown, or yellow), and it may also be shiny, tight, swollen, and warm to the touch. Often, the whole leg will become swollen.
How Are Stasis Ulcers Treated?
Leg ulcers must be treated right away because they often become infected. These infections can travel through the bloodstream and lead to serious health consequences like sepsis (a life-threatening complication) and the possible need for amputation.
Treatment for stasis ulcers involves wound care and infection prevention:
- Keep the wound clean and dry
- Keep the surrounding skin clean, healthy, and moisturized to reduce the risk of further tissue breakdown
- Keep the wound bandaged to protect it and prevent infection
- Use antibiotics to clear any infection
- Wear a compression stocking or bandage to minimize pressure on the leg
- Where necessary, receive surgery to remove any dead tissue
- For abnormally large or painful leg ulcers, receive a skin graft to assist with healing
How Long Does It Take a Venous Stasis Ulcer to Heal?
The length of time it takes for a stasis ulcer to heal depends on the severity of the wound. Stasis ulcers may take several weeks or months to heal completely, but with proper treatment and care, most stasis ulcers will see improvement within a few weeks. With professional help, most leg ulcers heal within three to four months. Unfortunately, a very small number will never heal.
How Do You Prevent Stasis Ulcers from Developing?
Treating a stasis ulcer is not enough by itself; you have to treat the source of the problem to prevent future venous ulcers from developing. Treating venous insufficiency may involve medications to prevent blood clots and undergoing vein specialist procedures to disable spider veins and varicose veins that cause fluid leakage resulting in stasis ulcers. These treatments include sclerotherapy, Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatment (EVLA), ClosureFast™, VenaSeal™, ambulatory phlebectomy, ligation, stripping, and vein bypass.
If you have a stasis ulcer or other symptoms of venous insufficiency, schedule an appointment at Vein Specialists of Augusta. We can evaluate your condition and offer therapeutic vein care and wound care to treat your stasis ulcer and restore healthy circulation in your legs.
Call (706) 854-8340 or contact us online to book an appointment with Dr. Sherman today.