What Is a Venous Leg Ulcer, and How Is It Treated?

What is a venous leg ulcer?

Venous disease causes weakness in vain walls and valves. When blood leaks out of a leg vein into surrounding tissue, that tissue may begin to break down and cause a venous leg ulcer. Legs with venous ulcers usually appear swollen and the skin around the ulcer is dry, itchy and sometimes brownish. The ulcer is usually painless however, it may become infected, which could cause pain and/or discharge.


Other types of leg ulcers

About 70% of leg ulcers are venous ulcers, which are usually located just above the ankle on the inside of the leg. The other two most common types of ulcers are neurotrophic (diabetic) and arterial (ischemic). Neurotrophic (diabetic) ulcers usually appear on the bottom of the feet and may be pink, red, brown, or black in color. Neurotrophic ulcers are result of changes in sweat-producing glands as a result of diabetes. Arterial (ischemic) ulcers are usually caused by atherosclerosis, a disease that causes plaque buildup in the arteries. Arterial ulcers most often occur on the heels, toes, between toes, or other places bones protrude and rub against something else and may appear yellow, brown, grey or black in color.


Treatment of venous leg ulcers

The experts at Minneapolis Vein Center typically begin treatment with an Unna boot, which is made up of gauze filled with healing medications. The boot will be changed weekly. Patients also wear compression stockings to keep pressure in the leg veins and are encouraged to keep their legs elevated whenever possible. When legs are raised above the heart, gravity helps the blood flow back toward the heart more easily. Most venous leg ulcers will heal in about three to four months but some patients will need further treatment in order to prevent recurrent ulcers or other problems.


Learn more

To learn more about the treatments offered at Minneapolis Vein Center, call 763-398-8710 to schedule a consultation with our experts. Our office is open M-F from 7:30am to 5:00pm.

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