When varicose veins appear on the lower legs, you know how to recognize them. Bulging, swollen vessels almost seem like an inevitable part of the aging process. However, you might not be prepared for some of the skin changes that can accompany the formation of those visible veins. One of the most serious of skin changes that can occur with varicose veins is an open sore known as a skin ulceration.
The Condition behind Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are often visible symptoms of an underlying vein condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. This condition occurs when tiny valves inside the veins stop working properly. Because these valves normally keep blood flowing in a single direction back to the heart, when they don’t work any longer, blood will reflux back into the vessel. This leads to weakening and swelling of the vein and the appearance of a varicosity.
If CVI is not treated, the condition can continue to worsen. You may begin to experience physical symptoms with your varicose veins, such as pain, leg heaviness and swelling of the lower extremity. You may also start to notice skin changes, which can continue to progress and even become permanent if the condition is not reversed.
Reasons for Skin Changes
Skin changes occur with CVI due to the increase pressure inside the affected vessels. That pressure can cause some fluid and blood to leak out of the vein, which damages the tissue just underneath the skin’s surface. This can lead to significant changes to the color and texture of the skin and the eventual formation of a skin ulceration.
The first changes you might notice to the skin of the lower leg is irritation and itchiness on the skin’s surface. This can progress to a tightening of the skin and a translucent appearance. Over time, the skin may turn brown and leathery, indicating significant and possibly permanent damage has occurred. This is a delicate state for the skin and even the slightest nick or puncture can lead to a large, open sore, usually forming around the ankle area.
The Problem with Skin Ulcerations
These open sores or ulcerations can grow quite large, taking up much of the skin around the ankle. They can be painful and even debilitating as they continue to enlarge. Because they are open, these wounds are highly vulnerable to infection and it is not unusual for sufferers to go through multiple rounds of antibiotics as they try to fight the bacteria that gets into the wound.
These wounds are generally treated with special dressings and ointments, in combination with antibiotics. It can take many weeks or even months to get rid of these ulcerations entirely. Some individuals find that even if it appears the ulceration is completely gone, they can – and often do – return to the same area.
Treating the Problem at the Source
When treating skin ulcerations due to CVI, it is important to address the problem at the source to ensure the best possible prognosis. This means shutting down the damaged veins and restoring healthy blood flow to the lower leg. Fortunately, there are a number of minimally-invasive procedures today that can do just that, eliminating diseased veins so blood naturally reroutes to healthy veins nearby.
If you are suffering with varicose veins or the uncomfortable complications associated with this condition, it is important to see a physician that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disorders. At Windward Vein, we can help you understand your condition and offer treatments that will get rid of your vein issues and their symptoms completely. To learn more, contact Windward Vein today at 808-797-2687.