Venous Leg Ulcer Patient Advice Sheet

Healing time varies between patients but is usually about the same as the length of time you had the ulcer before appropriate treatment was started. So if you had an ulcer for three months before starting treatment at LUCI, it is reasonable to expect it will heal in about three months. If your ulcer has been present for three years, healing is likely to take about the same amount of time.

Reducing pressure in the veins is the key to success.

Compression and a veins procedure combined work faster than compression alone.

Compression means a tight bandage or stocking which reduces pressure in your leg veins. It has to be tight to work. Avoid removing your compression simply because it feels tight.

Whenever your leg ulcer is below the level of your heart, there is avoidable pressure in the leg veins. Try and spend as much time as possible lying on a sofa with your leg elevated so the ulcer is above the level of your heart. Avoid prolonged standing. View time on your feet as time that ulcer healing is being delayed.

Many ulcers are painful. Regular simple analgesia such as paracetamol may help. Some patients need stronger pain killers which can be prescribed by your GP. Be realistic though – you are unlikely to be pain-free until the ulcer has healed.

Pain in the ulcer itself is to be expected and is not a reason to remove your compression. A sudden change in pain or pain in other areas of your legs may be a concern and you should let us know.

Antibiotics are rarely needed. It is normal for ulcers to have a red area around them. It is normal for them to produce fluid. The fluid often increases when the ulcer starts to heal. Antibiotics will not heal the ulcer. Antibiotics will not speed ulcer healing. Remember that antibiotics carry risks as well as benefits and should only be prescribed when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.

Lotions, ointments and special dressings for the ulcer will not heal it in the absence of venous pressure reduction (with compression and a veins procedure).

Nutrition is important for healing. Try to remember to take your prescribed protein shakes.

STOP SMOKING. Smoking slows down wound healing. It does not matter what caused the wound.

Ulcers tend to re-occur. Mind your leg. Avoid bangs and knocks.