Different Types of Nonhealing Wounds

Different Types of Nonhealing Wounds

Dr. Nirav Patel serves as Chief of Vascular Surgery and Medical Director of the Wound Healing Center at St. John’s Riverside Hospital. He also leads our team at Premier Vascular in Yonkers and Jackson Heights, New York.

Our group offers the highest quality care available in a convenient and comfortable setting for issues related to your vascular health, including nonhealing (chronic) wounds

What causes nonhealing wounds?

Your skin acts as a barrier that helps protect your body from bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms.

A cut, abrasion, surgical incision, or other skin wound triggers an immediate healing response that includes antibodies to fight infection, oxygen to nourish the damaged tissue, and proteins like collagen to rebuild the skin and seal the opening.

Your body counts on a healthy immune and circulatory system to produce and transport these vital substances to the wounded area.

Inadequate blood flow, overwhelming infection, insufficient nutrition, edema (swelling) related to poor circulation, and even age can slow or stall the wound-healing process.

Conditions and factors that increase your risk of developing a chronic wound include:

The condition of the skin and other tissue structures near the wound can also interfere with healing.

A significant amount of wound necrosis (dead skin), for instance, can prevent the capillaries from doing their job. These tiny vessels move oxygen and nutrients into your organs and tissues and remove carbon dioxide and other wastes.

Types of nonhealing (chronic) wounds

Chronic wounds occur most frequently on the legs and feet and may include venous and arterial ulcers as well as diabetic foot ulcers.

Venous ulcers

Venous ulcers, caused by venous insufficiency, occur when valves inside your leg veins malfunction and allow blood traveling back toward the heart to collect and pool in the vein.

This results in the twisting and bulging noted with varicose veins. Sluggish blood flow through the veins and damage to the capillaries can also result in fluid buildup, severe skin damage, and open sores (ulcers).

These types of wounds appear in the lower legs, generally below the knee, and are typically shallow but can grow quite large with very irregular borders.

Arterial ulcers

Arterial ulcers are often linked to PAD. Caused by plaque buildup related to atherosclerosis, PAD narrows the arteries that carry blood to your lower extremities. This essentially starves your skin and other tissues of the oxygen and nutrients essential for good health.

These wounds often occur around the ankles or at the side of the foot or on the toes where your skin presses against your shoes. They’re typically shallow to start with but can eventually become quite deep.

Diabetic foot ulcers

Related to the nerve damage that’s common with diabetes, these types of ulcers generally appear on the sole of the foot. These wounds can grow quite deep without care but often go unnoticed due to numbness and lack of normal pain sensation caused by neuropathy. 

Treating chronic wounds

Complications associated with chronic wounds can be quite severe, including increasing disability and spreading infection that may eventually cause widespread tissue death (gangrene) and possible foot or leg amputation.

Treatments are thus focused on promoting healing as well as preventing worsening infection. 

An individualized wound care plan may include:

To improve circulation and restore normal blood flow to and from your legs, Dr. Patel may also recommend treatments to close varicose veins or angioplasty to open peripheral arteries. 

For more information about wound care or any of the other services we offer, schedule an evaluation at Premier Vascular today.

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