Q: What are venous leg ulcers?
A: When venous insufficiency or varicose veins are left untreated, the high venous pressures cause progressive edema and inflammation in the legs and ankles. This inflammation eventually results in a condition called lipodermatosclerosis, or fibrosis in the skin and subcutaneous tissues. If the veins are still not treated, the skin actually breaks down, forming an open sore or ulcer. Venous ulcers are dreadfully painful and can be open for years at a time. They are difficult or impossible to heal using conventional measures. They usually occur in the ankle or lower leg and can range from dime-size to completely encircling the leg. Venous ulcers affect 4% of people over the age of 65. It is impossible to predict which patients will develop ulcers or how long it will take for them to heal.