What are Venous Leg Ulcers? An In-depth Guide to Prevention and Management

Venous ulcer on leg.Venous leg ulcers are more than just persistent sores. They are long-lasting, chronic sores that often appear on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle. Beyond its physical appearance, which may include discolored tones and hardened skin surrounding them, the pain and swelling these ulcers bring can impact a person’s daily life, restricting movement and making tasks like walking or standing a challenge. So why do these tenacious troublemakers pop up, and how can we show them the exit? Let’s dive into the mystery!

Legs Gone Rogue: The Life and Times of Venous Leg Ulcers


Venous leg ulcers are open sores that pop up when the blood in your leg veins forgets how to go with the flow, especially in the lower extremities. These ulcers can manifest from what might initially seem like minor injuries. But when scratches and bumps lead to persistently high pressure in your leg veins, you may be in for some unexpected skin redecoration, blood vessel damage, and a bout of poor blood circulation.

Several factors play a role in the emergence of these ulcers:

  1. Venous Conditions: The primary culprit is often Chronic Venous Insufficiency. However, conditions like varicose veins and Deep Vein Thrombosis are also likely suspects in the case of venous leg ulcers.
  2. Obesity: Carrying excess weight isn’t just a strain on one’s joints; it exerts additional pressure on the veins. This can potentially escalate to venous insufficiency and, consequently, ulcers.
  3. Prolonged Activity Patterns: Whether you’re stationed at a desk or subject to a job that demands constant footwork, both scenarios conspire with gravity to tinker with leg circulation, eventually paving the way for ulcer development.
  4. Aging: The natural aging process isn’t kind to our veins. As you clock in more years, the risk of venous leg ulcers tends to amplify. This happens when the vein walls and their valve buddies decide to go a bit floppy, making them susceptible to all sorts of shenanigans.
  5. Genetic Influence: Genetics is that ever-present relative at family gatherings, sticking its nose in whether you approve or not. Venous leg ulcers? They’re in on it too. Some folks may draw the short straw in the ulcer lottery due to a genetic line of malfunctioning veins.
  6. Medical History: If your legs have a past—say, they’ve dabbled in the art of leg ulcers or vein treatments—they might just have a higher-risk membership card in their wallet. These historical medical escapades can set the stage for the future development of venous leg ulcers.

What Unfolds Once Venous Leg Ulcers Begin?



Diagram of a venous leg ulcer.At first, venous leg ulcers might just waltz in with some unassuming moves: a touch of swelling, a sprinkle of color change, and a dash of itchiness. But as the condition advances, the plot thickens, leading to skin deterioration and the emergence of open wounds or ulcers.


For those enduring this ordeal, the discomfort is all too real, often taking the form of pain or lingering unease around the wound. But can we expect a swift recovery? Sadly, not always. The healing journey can stretch out like a binge-worthy Netflix series, spanning months and, in some cases, even years.



Ignoring a venous leg ulcer is like leaving the front door wide open for trouble. An untreated open ulcer might just dispatch an engraved invitation to infections, adorned with a flashy neon sign saying, “Welcome, germs!” Along with this unwelcome soiree come pain, swelling, foul odors that can clear rooms faster than a fire alarm, and a fever that’s partying like it’s 103 degrees.


The saga of complications doesn’t just throw in the towel with surface infections. If an ulcer isn’t kept in pristine cleanliness, it might dissolve into cellulitis, an infection that messes with the underlying tissue and brings along a cocktail of complications to the shindig. The situation gets serious when untreated ulcers advance to the level of gangrene. In dire circumstances like these, amputation might become the sole viable option for saving a person’s life. Needless to say, tending to those ulcers promptly could serve as your saving grace, thwarting the rare yet calamitous saga of amputation woes.

Therapies and Techniques for Managing Venous Leg Ulcers

Treatments for venous leg ulcers.


Fear not, for venous leg ulcers have their wings clipped with a lineup of treatment options that are as customized as a tailor-made suit. These options swoop in to tackle the severity and unique quirks of each patient’s situation.

Compression Therapy


Compression therapy is like giving your legs a bear hug, but with specially designed stockings or bandages. Compression stockings do double duty—reducing swelling like a deflating balloon and orchestrating a harmonious symphony of blood circulation. So, while your legs might not strut down fashion runways, they’ll certainly appreciate the VIP treatment as they tango toward healing.

Wound Care


Keeping that ulcer spick and span is like giving it a one-way ticket to keeping infections at bay. So grab your magnifying glass and put on your surgical gloves, because we’re talking about cleaning sessions so meticulous they make detective work look like child’s play. Regularly cleaning ulcers and wearing loose, breathable clothing to support vein comfort can aid the healing process.

Leg Elevation


Ever think that elevating your leg could be your ticket to better health? Well, give that limb a raise and watch the magic happen! By raising your leg above heart level, you naturally reduce swelling and enhance blood circulation.

Exercise and Physical Therapy


Under the watchful eye of a physical therapist, you can embark on a grand tour of exercises designed to boost muscle tone and invigorate blood flow. Try some ankle pumps or a splash of water aerobics. And if you’re feeling particularly spicy, throw in some calf raises, leg lifts, or even cycling.

Surgical Options


At times, our ulcers can be quite picky, turning up their noses at standard treatments. In such moments, we might need to roll out the red carpet for procedures like vein stripping, endovenous ablation, or sclerotherapy. If those treatments still don’t meet our ulcer’s high standards, a skin graft might be in order. Think of it as giving the affected area a mini makeover, using either artificial skin or a snippet from another part of your body.

Lifestyle Changes


Want to keep those ulcers at bay? Then it might be time to jazz up your diet and embrace that healthy weight. You should also bid adieu to extended periods of sitting and standing, and give smoking the boot. A few adjustments here and there, and you’ll be paving a smoother path to managing and warding off ulcers.



Ever heard the saying, ‘there’s a pill for that’? Well, in the bustling metropolis of Ulcer Town, pharmaceuticals still stand tall as a go-to remedy for venous leg ulcers. Facing off against pesky intruders? Antibiotics are laced up and ready to tackle those infections. Feeling the pinch of that vein discomfort? Pain relievers are warming the bench, eager to jump into the game. And for that final flourish? Topical treatments are here to fast-track the healing parade. Just another day in the dynamic realm of wound care!

Step Toward Recovery: Act on Your Venous Leg Ulcers Today


On your journey to manage and treat venous leg ulcers, spotting those early warning signs can mean the difference between a speedy exit or a lengthy season of treatment. And we’re not just playing to minimize the visible hiccups. The true objective is to enhance quality of life, reduce pain, and avoid additional complications.

While we all fancy ourselves as armchair doctors from time to time, self-diagnosis and DIY treatments can land us in a pickle. It’s essential to tap into the wisdom of medical experts. Vein professionals have the right tools and expertise to tailor treatments specifically for you. So, if you or a friend are showcasing symptoms of a venous leg ulcer, reach out to a healthcare professional—stat!

At Delaware Advanced Vein Center, our expert medical staff has years of experience treating people with venous conditions such as varicose veins, spider veins, and more. Our dedicated team specializes in providing attentive and personalized care, something larger clinics often overlook. We welcome you to our family of satisfied patients.

Contact us today to schedule a FREE virtual consultation and vein evaluation.