Anyone with varicose veins knows they can cause symptoms like pain, burning and aching in addition to their twisted, bulging, purplish appearance. But did you also know varicose veins and venous disease can make you more likely to develop sores that can take a long time to heal? More commonly referred to as leg or foot ulcers, sores related to varicose veins can result in a significantly increased risk of infection, and a recent study from researchers in the U.K. has identified additional factors that could make you more prone to developing ulcers.

Venous Disease and Ulcers: Risk Factors

Conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the study compared 120 patients with varicose veins and leg ulcers with 120 people who had no history of either condition. Each person was asked to complete a questionnaire about their lifestyle habits and medical history, and to undergo a physical exam which included ultrasound and other assessment of vein health and function. At the completion of the study, the researchers found that people who smoke, are overweight or obese, or who have chronic venous insufficiency are all more likely to develop hard-to-heal leg ulcers compared to those without these risk factors.

Some 500,000 people in the U.S. suffer from leg ulcers each year, and for many people, those ulcers become dangerously infected, spreading to deeper layers of tissue and increasing the likelihood of limb amputation and even life-threatening complications like sepsis. Leg ulcers typically begin when skin structure becomes compromised from swelling associated with varicose veins and venous disease. Itching and burning symptoms can also increase the likelihood of skin ulcers when those affected areas are scratched or rubbed repeatedly.

The researchers say they hope the results of their study will help doctors determine the best varicose vein treatment options for patients who are most at risk for ulcers, enabling them to provide education and information to help these patients identify the early signs of ulceration so treatment can be provided before serious complications occur.

Are You at Risk for Developing Ulcers?

If you have varicose veins, even if they’re not causing symptoms like pain or itching, you can still be at risk for developing potentially dangerous skin ulcers as well as other serious side effects of venous disease. The first step in decreasing your risks is to have a vein evaluation and assessment. As a leading Houston vein clinic, Metro Vein Centers in Sugar Land provides the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options to help women and men understand their risks for venous disease and obtain the treatments they need for optimal health and wellness. To learn more about our treatment options or to discuss your vein health, call Metro Vein Centers at 888-424-3882 to schedule a consultation today.