Topics Covered in this Blog:
- What Are Venous Leg Ulcers?
- 7 Tips on How to Prevent Venous Ulcers on the Legs
- Treatment for Venous Leg Ulcers
- Venous Leg Ulcer Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
Venous ulcers, which most often develop on the legs, are open, non-healing wounds that can develop as a result of underlying vein disease, or venous insufficiency. Common symptoms of vein disease include leg swelling, cramping, heaviness, and fatigue.
As vein disease progresses, skin changes can begin to develop, including redness, itching, and hardness. In some cases, the skin cracks open and begins to ulcerate. Once formed, venous ulcers do not go away on their own. They place you at risk for serious infection and must be kept clean, dry, and covered.
Below, we discuss how to prevent leg ulcers, along with treatment options for ones that have already developed. For additional information on venous ulcer prevention and treatment, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.
Venous leg ulcers, also known as venous stasis ulcers, are open, non-healing wounds that develop on the legs as a result of vein disease. Venous ulcers account for up to 80% of all leg ulcers. Cracked, dry, or reddened skin is often the first sign of a venous ulcer.
Common symptoms that often accompany venous leg ulcers include:
- Itchy, scaly, dry skin on the legs
- Hardened skin around the ulcer
- Heavy feeling in the legs
- Red, purple, or brown color on the skin
- Swollen and enlarged veins on the legs
- Cracked or dry skin that may open up
- Swollen ankles
- Unpleasant and foul-smelling discharge from the ulcer
Unlike other types of wounds, venous leg ulcers do not heal on their own. However, treating underlying vein disease can promote their eventual healing, along with reducing your risk of developing additional leg ulcers and other venous issues.
There are several things you can do to prevent venous ulcers from developing. If you already have a leg ulcer, the following tips may help alleviate painful symptoms and reduce your risk for additional venous issues.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Having an elevated body mass index (BMI) increases your likelihood of developing vein disease. Excess body weight strains tiny, one-way valves in your leg veins. Over time, this strain can cause veins to malfunction, leading to problems like varicose veins.
Weight loss and weight management are essential elements of venous ulcer prevention. Losing weight removes excess pressure on your veins, which can slow the progression of vein disease.
2. Be Physically Active
Another important tip for how to prevent venous ulcers is to be physically active. Exercising regularly and moving around frequently throughout the day can help prevent venous ulcers from developing.
Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Individuals with varicose veins and venous ulcers may need to avoid certain strenuous activities. Most experts recommend aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, five days a week. When possible, avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
3. Eat a Well-Rounded Diet
Eating a healthy diet is another expert tip for how to prevent leg ulcers. A healthy diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats. Drinking sufficient fluids is also important for healthy circulation.
Avoiding certain foods can also help in the prevention of venous leg ulcers. Try to steer clear of sodium, added sugar, and unhealthy fats as much as possible. For expert dietary advice, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietician.
4. Wear Compression Socks
If you suffer from leg swelling and other symptoms of vein disease, especially if you spend a lot of time standing or sitting, talk to your doctor about using compression socks. For many, these garments can help improve blood flow, aiding in the prevention of venous leg ulcers.
Your doctor can prescribe medical compression socks. Along with preventing leg ulcers, wearing compression socks lowers the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
5. Elevate Your Legs
Standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time allows blood to pool in your legs and feet, rather than be transported efficiently back to your heart. On the other hand, elevating your legs and feet can boost blood circulation, bringing relief to venous symptoms and preventing leg ulcers.
For this method of venous ulcer prevention, lay flat on your back with your legs propped up on a couple of pillows. If you prefer a sitting position, place your legs and feet up on another chair or nearby piece of furniture.
6. Quit Smoking
We all know that smoking is an unhealthy habit, impacting the heart, lungs, and other areas of your body. Smoking can also profoundly impact your veins, increasing the likelihood of developing venous ulcers.
Therefore, another one of our tips for how to prevent venous ulcers is to quit smoking. Of course, we understand that this may be easier said than done. If you are struggling to quit, talk to your doctor for added support. They can recommend a smoking cessation program.
7. Consider Vein Treatment
Vein disease is a progressive condition that worsens over time. Typically, there are warning signs before venous ulcers develop. It may be time to consider treatment if you experience early signs of vein disease like leg swelling and varicose veins. Timely vein treatment can prevent venous ulcers.
Many of our patients have shared with us that they waited months before getting vein treatment, even though they had a slow or non-healing leg ulcer. Despite this visible sign of vein disease, they hoped the ulcer would heal on its own. Waiting for leg ulcers to heal on their own usually causes them to get worse. It can also lead to serious infection.
Although you might expect that some type of lotion or cream could be used to improve your venous ulcer, these products are unlikely to offer more than temporary relief. For a longer-lasting solution, vein treatment addresses the underlying cause of venous ulcers: your vein disease.
Some people think that surgery is necessary to eliminate venous ulcers. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Our vein specialists offer a range of minimally invasive, office-based vein treatments to help your venous ulcers heal and reduce your risk of developing new ones.
At USA Vein Clinics, we offer the following vein treatments:
- Visual Sclerotherapy
- Ultrasound-guided Sclerotherapy
- Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)
- VenaSeal™ Treatment
- Varithena Vein Treatment
To learn which type of vein treatment is best for you, visit an experienced vein specialist at USA Vein Clinics. They can conduct a full medical evaluation and make personalized treatment recommendations. In some cases, more than one treatment may be necessary to achieve desired results.
Our USA Vein Clinics specialists provide minimally invasive, office-based vein treatment at over 100 convenient locations nationwide. We also offer virtual doctor visits.
Most major health insurance plans cover treatment to resolve venous symptoms like varicose veins and venous ulcers. If you would like to discuss your coverage details or schedule an appointment, give us a call at 888.768.3467.
Connect With Vein Specialists Near You
Where do you need a vein specialist?
 Biju Vasudevan, “Venous Leg Ulcers: Pathophysiology and Classification,” Indian dermatology online journal (Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, July 2014), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144244/.