Chronic wounds and ulcers can be more than just painful and annoying — they also can be life-threatening. Many patients end up in a significant amount of pain, which prohibits them from living a normal, healthy lifestyle. In their attempt to heal, patients often turn to expensive products and potentially painful procedures – which oftentimes don’t work.
For those suffering from chronic wounds, the answer is simpler than they might think. A minimally invasive, outpatient procedure paired with lifestyle changes can hold the key to healing long-lasting wounds.
What are Chronic Wounds?
It’s estimated that about 5 million Americans suffer from chronic, or non-healing, wounds. Treatment for chronic wounds is highly individualized, and depends on your medical history and the type of wounds you suffer from. Types of wounds we have expertise in treating include: pressure ulcers, venous stasis wounds, diabetic ulcers, radiation wounds, non-healing surgical wounds, ostomies, varicose veins, skin ulcers, lymphedema, and osteomyelitis.
Wounds can be caused by many things, from injuries to chronic diseases: such as diabetes or venous disease. Most minor wounds heal in a matter of weeks, but when they last four weeks without significant healing progress, they are then defined as chronic wounds.
There are many varied causes and environmental factors that result in non-healing wounds. In order to properly heal chronic wounds, a patient requires a holistic approach centered on quality care and prevention. To establish a treatment plan, we need to assess each patient individually. Below are five contributing factors that lead to chronic wounds:
1. Infection and complications: When infection sets into a wound, it must be addressed before the wound can heal properly. This can be done through topical and oral medication, proper bandages and dressings, and strict attention to the underlying cause.
2. Using the wrong medications or dressings: Since each wound is different, and depends on the individual, what works on one person may not work on another. You may need a different type of ointment or dressing, or you may need a different wound care or cleaning process to promote complete healing.
3. Poor blood flow or circulation: This is often a problem in chronic diseases such as venous disorders or diabetes. Your body relies on good blood flow to bring blood cells, healing and growth factors, and necessary fluids to the wound area. When circulation is poor, it prevents the wound from healing properly.
4. Underlying illness: Conditions such as: immune-linked disease, cardiac or circulatory disease, diabetes, or various skin conditions can inhibit healing.
5. Burn or traumatic injury: When skin or wounded areas are too heavily damaged due to burns or other traumatic injuries, they can’t work with your body to heal themselves. Oftentimes, the area may need treatments to accelerate the healing of damaged cells.
At the Advanced Vein Center in Portland, Maine, our trained medical staff will evaluate your wounds and advise you on the best treatments for your needs. Options include: wound debridement, edema reduction therapy, skin lesion removal, topical growth factors, laceration repair, compression therapy, or wound-specific treatments.
We’ll also discuss home wound care, prevention, nutrition and activity which are essential for setting your body up for success in wound healing. While some wounds can take months to heal, untreated, chronic wounds can lead to hospitalization, infection, and other more severe health issues. Please feel free to contact us for more information about chronic wounds.