What are leg ulcers?
A leg ulcer is an area of the leg where the skin has broken down and is slow to heal. It is a common condition in our population, and we are seeing it more frequently in the elderly.
What causes leg ulcers?
The main causes of leg ulcers include:
- Arterial leg ulcers – a lack of circulation leads to skin breakdown and ulcers. These ulcers are often painful and can lead to gangrene and amputation if left untreated.
- Venous leg ulcers – increased pressure in the veins over a long period of time can lead to leg ulcers e.g. untreated varicose veins.
- Diabetic foot ulcers – people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing foot ulcers for a variety of reasons which include poor circulation, as well as an increased risk of infection.
- Other causes – these can be vasculitic ulcers (where the person’s own immune system attacks the skin and causes it to break down) and skin cancer ulcers.
Often, the ulcer is caused by a combination of the above reasons.
The correct diagnosis of the ulcer is critical in order for treatment and healing to occur. Each of the above causes of leg ulcers requires different treatment options. Fortunately, with evolving technology, most of the treatments now include minimally invasive (key-hole) methods not requiring surgery or a general anaesthetic. This includes angioplasty and stenting for arterial ulcers and laser treatment for varicose veins.
Dr Shakibaie has a special interest in the management of leg ulcers and has a wealth of experience in managing the conditions which lead to leg ulcers with minimally invasive means. He has often managed to heal a long-term ulcer and save the leg with angioplasty and stenting when other vascular surgeons have recommended major surgery.
It is important to not only heal the ulcer, but also to prevent a recurrence of any leg ulcers. Dr Shakibaie will give advice and arrange any follow-up required to achieve this. Leg ulcers are a condition where prevention really is better than treatment.