Venous Stasis Ulcers (VSU)

What are Venous Stasis Ulcers (VSU)?

Venous stasis ulcers are open sores that occur on the lower legs and feet due to prolonged pressure on the veins. They are common in people with poor circulation due to a condition known as venous insufficiency. This happens when there is a decrease in the pressure in the veins, meaning that less blood is able to return to the heart. Poor blood flow causes a buildup of fluid in the lower legs, leading to swelling (edema) and the breakdown of the skin, resulting in a venous stasis ulcer.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of venous stasis ulcers include:

  • Discolored, itchy skin surrounding affected area
  • Pain and discomfort in the lower leg
  • Redness and inflammation around the wound
  • Swelling and fluid buildup in the lower legs
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Thickened, hard skin around the affected area
  • A foul smelling discharge from the wound

Diagnosis and Treatment

Venous stasis ulcers can be difficult to diagnose, as they can look similar to other skin conditions such as leg ulcers or diabetic ulcers. A physician will typically take a medical history, perform a physical exam, and order tests to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for venous stasis ulcers typically includes:

  • Prescription medications to reduce swelling and pain
  • Specialized wound care products to treat the ulcer
  • Compression stockings or leg wraps to reduce swelling
  • Exercises to improve blood flow and reduce edema
  • Diet and lifestyle adjustments to reduce risk factors for venous insufficiency
  • Surgery for severe cases of venous insufficiency

Risk Factors

There are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing venous stasis ulcers. These factors include:

  • Advanced age
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Prolonged standing or sitting
  • Previous history of venous stasis ulcers
  • Varicose veins
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Diabetes


The best way to prevent venous stasis ulcers is to manage any underlying conditions that can increase the risk, such as varicose veins, peripheral artery disease, and diabetes. Additionally, the following lifestyle modifications can help reduce the risk of developing venous stasis ulcers:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding prolonged standing or sitting
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Not smoking
  • Wearing supportive stockings or wraps to reduce fluid buildup