Venous Ulcers & Wound Care

Jane Smith, MD -  - Phlebologist

VeinCare of Central North Carolina

Jane Smith, MD

Phlebologist & Internist located in Raleigh, NC

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Dr. Jane Smith and her clinical team have extensive experience in treating venous ulcers. Venous ulcers occur when abnormal veins and venous insufficiency have been present for a long period of time.This is a serious problem that can cause infections in the open skin as well as severe pain. Because of this, it is essential to seek medical attention for this problem.Call the office to schedule a consultation or book your appointment online to visit Dr. Smith at VeinCare of Central North Carolina.

Venous Ulcers & Wound Care Q & A

What are the symptoms of venous ulcers?

While varicose veins cause significant symptoms and are unsightly, critical problems can develop. A venous ulcer is an open sore or wound that extends below the skin surface causing pain and frequently severe infections.

Venous ulcers are a rare but serious consequence of long-standing untreated varicose veins. The backwards flow of blood causes high pressure in the veins resulting in skin breakdown usually in the inside of the ankle.

If you have venous ulcers, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately by a Doctor who is experienced in treating vein disease and leg ulcers. The treatment of venous ulcers is complex and requires an understanding of this unique complication of vein disease.

Venous ulcers usually entail the following symptoms:

  • Aching and heaviness in the legs
  • Breakdown of the skin
  • Skin alterations (e.g., thickening of the skin,brownish discoloration)
  • Drainage from the ulcer
  • Swelling of the leg
  • Varicose veins

What are the causes of venous ulcers?

Backwards blood flow in the legs, otherwise known as “venous reflux,” usually causes venous ulcers. The veins have valves that allow the blood to flow in one direction, towards the heart. The valves then close to stop the blood from flowing back down in the opposite direction.

The open-and-close mechanism of these valves along with contraction of the muscles in the leg  propel the blood back to the heart with healthy circulation in the leg. When the valves are damaged, the blood collects and pools in the vein, causing high pressure and bulging in the vein. If this happens, blood can leak out of the vein and into the surrounding tissues. The tissues are then broken down by the unhealthy blood and an ulcer forms.

What is the difference between venous insufficiency and venous reflux?

Venous insufficiency occurs when the vein muscle wall weakens or the valves in your veins deteriorate allowing the blood to pool in the veins. With nothing to oppose the pull of gravity,the blood falls backwards towards the feet. This condition of backwards flow is called venous reflux.

Both venous insufficiency and venous reflux result in an abnormal circulatory condition in which your blood can't correctly circulate from your legs to your heart.

What are the treatment options for venous ulcers?

Since venous ulcers can lead to more severe complications, such as infections, Dr. Smith and her team evaluate each patient’s unique situation to determine a treatment plan. Your plan might include compression therapy to reduce the swelling and buildup of fluid, short-stretch compression wraps, wound care and antibiotics.

Some patients develop a condition called lipodermatosclerosis in which the skin and fatty tissues become hardened due to chronic inflammation from abnormal venous flow. This condition is uncomfortable and may lead to cracks and fissures in the skin putting the patient at high risk for infection. Any cracks and fissures that do develop require wound care.

Dr. Smith and her team have a wealth of experience in treating venous ulcers and other complications of venous insufficiency. They will help decide the best plan for you.