WHY DON'T THE WOUNDS ON MY LEGS AND FEET HEAL ANYMORE?
Hi! Dr. Lau here again with South Bay Vascular. Today, I wanted to shed some light on one of the most common issues that we see in vascular surgery, non-healing wounds of the feet and toes. My hope is that after reading this blog you will have a better understanding of what causes leg wounds and ulcers; why sometimes they won’t heal on their own, and what we in vascular surgery can do to help them heal.
Ulcers, generally speaking, develop because of TWO main causes: nerve damage induced by diabetes and lack of blood flow. When patients have elevated levels of sugar in their blood with diabetes, the sugar forms toxic compounds that damage nerves in the foot. Consequently, the patient cannot feel injuries that would otherwise cause a normal patient to adjust position to stop the injury. With this loss of sensation ulcers form at the point of repeated injury that the patient cannot feel.
The second cause, a lack of blood flow, develops over decades in patients who smoke and who have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These medical problems cause hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels, otherwise known as atherosclerosis.
In patients with diabetes, I coordinate carefully with my podiatrist colleagues who are experts in specialized footwear and surgical interventions that alleviate common areas of trauma. In patients with poor blood flow, I, as a vascular surgeon, can perform minimally invasive surgery to restore blood flow to the affected area. We use wires and specialized tubes to gain access to the blood vessels and then use balloons to break open the narrowing's and self-expanding tubes called stents to keep the vessels open. Afterwards, we use a specialized x-ray machine called fluoroscopy to see that the narrowing's have opened again to allow blood to flow back to the area. Patients usually leave to go home the same day with only a 2-millimeter puncture in their groin and are back to normal activity the day after surgery!
If you or anyone you know has a wound on their leg, foot or toe that hasn't healed in more than two weeks, please call our office at 408 376 3626 to schedule an appointment.