Venous leg ulcers, or venous stasis ulcers, are painful open wounds on the leg or ankle that do not heal for weeks or months. Venous insufficiency is the leading cause of venous leg ulcers.
With venous insufficiency, unhealthy or damaged veins lead to poor blood circulation and cause blood to pool. If veins cannot effectively push blood back up to the heart, excess blood pools and can build up pressure. The increased pressure and fluid build-up blocks essential oxygen and nutrients from reaching body tissue. As a result, tissue becomes damaged and forms a wound. Furthermore, the lack of oxygen and nutrients slows wound healing, leading to an ulcer.
Ulcers can worsen quickly if left untreated, increasing the risk of complications and limb loss. Common risk factors for venous ulcers include blood clots, diabetes, obesity, aging, and injury.