One of the most common types of leg ulcers, venous ulcers are serious wounds that most commonly affect the legs. If left untreated, this slow healing wound can result in serious complications including infection and even loss of limbs. The longer you wait to take of it the greater the risk of experiencing further issues. Fortunately, the expert staff at West Coast Wound Center specializes in the treatment and prevention of serious wounds like venous ulcers and can help restore your quality of life.

What Are Venous Ulcers

man with a venous ulcer on this legVenous ulcers are open skin ulcers that often occur on the legs. These types of slow healing wounds generally result from circulation issues in the leg veins and are commonly associated with discomfort, itching, and swelling. Also referred to as venous leg ulcers or venous stasis ulcers, venous ulcers can last from a few weeks to months depending on the individual.

What Causes Venous Ulcers

Venous ulcers are a result of the vein’s inability to carry proper blood flow back up to the heart. Valves control blood pressure within the veins; decreasing pressure as you walk. If these valves become blocked or damaged, pressure builds and the blood can flow backward and collect in the legs (a process also referred to as venous insufficiency). If left untreated, the higher pressure and excess fluid can get in the way of the path of nutrients and oxygen; resulting in cell death, tissue damage, and an open wound to form.

In addition to venous insufficiency, venous ulcers can be caused by conditions such as:

  • Varicose veins
  • Venous reflux
  • Poor circulation or blood clots (venous obstruction)
  • Diabetes or other inflammatory conditions
  • Infections
  • Obesity or high blood pressure
  • Certain medications

Common Symptoms of Venous Ulcers

It’s crucial to be able to identify the symptoms of having a venous ulcer so you can take the appropriate steps to manage it. Some of the most common signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Stasis dermatitis or a change in the skin caused by excess blood in the leg veins.
  • Discolored or thickened skin around the wound site.
  • Uneven borders around the wound.
  • Swelling, itching, or pain in the leg.
  • Feelings of heaviness in the calf muscle.
  • Discolored spots with hardened skin.
  • Surrounding skin becomes warm and shiny.
  • A Shallow sore with a red color.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or if there are any signs of infection make sure to contact a wound care specialist or healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Who is Most At Risk?

Although anyone can have a venous skin ulcer, they are more common among older adults and females. You may also be at heightened risk if you:

  • Have a history of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
  • Experienced a serious injury like a burn, muscle damage, or leg fracture.
  • Tend to stand or sit down for extended periods of time.
  • Have a genetic predisposition to venous insufficiency.
  • Have difficulty walking due to osteoarthritis or obesity.
  • Have recently had surgery on your leg such as a knee replacement.

Managing and Treating Venous Ulcers

specialist treating venous leg ulcerIf you have a slow healing wound like a venous ulcer or a wound you suspect might be infected it’s imperative that you consult a wound care specialist as soon as possible. Venous ulcers don’t heal by themselves and if left untreated, the greater the risk of lingering tissue damage. Damaged tissue can spread and increase the chances of infection as well as other serious conditions like gangrene.

Generally, treatment begins with an assessment of the wound and surrounding skin to determine if you have a venous ulcer. Your wound care specialist will gather information on your medical history such as if you have a history of chronic wounds, underlying issues that might be contributing to the issue, or other conditions that might impair wound healing like diabetes. If the underlying conditions are not addressed it may increase the likelihood of the ulcer coming back after treatment.

Once a diagnosis has been made, a customized treatment plan can be developed. Treatment for venous ulcers largely depends on the severity and location of the wound, however, compression therapy is the most common approach. Compression therapy adds pressure with wraps or bandages, allowing the veins to loosen which in turn decreases venous pressure, reduces edema, as well as improves blood flow.

In addition to compression therapy, your wound care specialist might recommend other treatment approaches such as:

  • Raising your legs for recommended periods of time to improve circulation.
  • Wound debridement to help remove dead tissue.
  • Pain relievers and ointments to guard against bacteria.
  • Recommendations to help manage underlying conditions.
  • Specific wound dressings to keep the area covered.
  • Specific instructions on how to keep the wound clean.
  • If infected, your doctor might recommend antibiotics to eliminate bacteria.
  • Compression stockings to help keep blood flowing.
  • Although rare, in certain cases surgery or a skin graft might be recommended.

With proper treatment full recovery from venous ulcers is possible. That said, having a venous ulcer makes it more likely to come back in the future so it is crucial to follow any wound care recommendations given to you.

How to Prevent Venous Ulcers

If you are at risk of developing venous ulcers it’s important to stay educated on what you can do to help prevent them from occurring. This is even more important if you have experienced an ulcer before. Your wound specialist can offer lifestyle changes and daily routines but there are a few steps you can take to help prevent vein issues:

  • Stop smoking which can damage blood vessels.
  • Manage your weight if you are obese and eat a healthy diet.
  • Manage underlying conditions that affect vein health like diabetes or hypertension.
  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Wear compression socks to keep blood flowing.
  • Have a regular exercise routine to help blood flow.
  • When possible keep your legs elevated.
  • Ask your doctor about medications like aspirin to prevent blood clots.

Specialized Wound Care and Management

At West Coast Wound Center, our specialized team of physicians and medical staff are equipped with the expertise to treat a full range of wound types and skin concerns including venous ulcers.

Due to our comprehensive, integrated and holistic approach to wound care; we heal venous wounds 25% faster than other practices.

We are committed to providing the highest quality care to each of our patients in the Fresno and California area and offer the full spectrum of wound care and management.

Book an appointment today and let us show you how we can help heal your wounds and take back your life.



2501 W Burbank Blvd #200, Burbank, CA 91505

Phone: (818) 856-9535

Fax: (818) 979-0593