Chronic Venous Leg Ulcers

Chronic Venous Leg Ulcers

Chronic venous leg ulcers are ulcers that occur on the lower leg as a result of chronic venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins of the leg are not able to return enough blood to the heart and as a result, blood pressure in the leg veins is very high. This causes fluid to leak into the surrounding tissue, damaging the skin and resulting in ulcers.

The most common cause of chronic venous leg ulcers is damaged or stretched valves in the leg veins. Valves are located inside veins to help return blood to the heart, and if they are not functioning properly, blood can leak out and cause the high pressure that leads to ulcers. Other causes of chronic venous leg ulcers include obesity, diabetes, smoking, standing for extended periods of time and certain medications.

The goal of treating chronic venous leg ulcers is to reduce the high pressure, reduce inflammation, and speed up healing. Treatment often includes:

  • Wrapping the leg in compression bandages or compression stockings.
  • Applying ointments or dressings to the ulcer to keep it moist.
  • Elevating the leg to reduce swelling.
  • Taking medications such as antibiotics or anticoagulants.
  • Surgery to repair damaged veins or correct underlying conditions such as obesity or diabetes.

Chronic venous leg ulcers can take several months to heal, and recurrence is common. It is important to keep the ulcer clean and dry, and to seek prompt medical attention if any sign of infection occurs.