If you have varicose veins and you smoke, are overweight or suffer from chronic venous insufficiency, you may be at an increased risk of developing painful sores or skin ulcers, according to the results of a recent study conducted by researchers in Scotland. About a half million people are affected by leg and foot ulcers every year in the U.S., Without proper treatment, infection from ulcers can spread to deeper tissues and increase the likelihood of limb amputation. Having varicose veins evaluated by a vein treatment specialist is an important step in preventing skin ulcers, which can significantly increase the risk of dangerous infections in people who suffer from vein disease.

Varicose Veins and Leg Ulcers: Who’s at Risk?

Conducted at the University of Edinburgh, the study compared 120 patients with varicose veins and open leg ulcers with 120 people with no history of varicose veins or leg ulcers to help identify which risk factors increased the likelihood of developing skin ulcers. Men and women involved in the study were asked to complete questionnaires about their medical history and lifestyle factors that could contribute to vein disease and ulcer risk. Plus, each person underwent a thorough physical examination, including ultrasound evaluation of their veins, evaluation of their calf muscles and other assessments. Then, the data were analyzed to determine which factors were most highly associated with eventual development of leg ulcers.

At the end of the study, the researchers found patients who had varicose veins and also exhibited some skin changes, like tender or itchy areas, changes in skin color and tissue swelling, were much more likely to develop ulcers, as were those who were obese or who smoked, and those with restricted ankle movement. Ulcers were also more likely in people with weaker calf muscle pump. Calf muscle pump refers to a special pumping action performed by calf muscles to help blood return from the lower leg toward the heart.

Study Results Can Help Guide in Varicose Vein Treatment

The results of the study can provide some important insight for vein treatment specialists by helping to identify patients who are most likely to develop leg ulcers, and then providing those patients with the education and guidance they need to monitor their legs for signs of ulcers or sores.

In addition, the results of the study emphasize the importance of having varicose veins evaluated early, even if they aren’t causing symptoms like pain or swelling, to ensure the best and most appropriate treatments can be provided before serious complications like leg ulcers have a chance to develop.

At Metro Vein Centers, our top-ranked Detroit vein doctors are skilled in providing the most advanced and most effective varicose vein treatment options to help patients have healthier veins and avoid serious complications like venous leg and foot ulcers. If you have varicose veins or spider veins, call today to schedule an evaluation so you can enjoy better vein health.