Venous Leg, Ankle and Foot Ulcers …What are they, and is there help?


Dr. Jeffrey Alpern, D.O., a cardiovascular surgeon and founder of Vein Specialists of Arizona often sees patients that have been suffering for years with leg and foot ulcers. What are ulcers and what are the symptoms of ulcers? Ulcers are wounds or open sores that will not heal or keep returning. Hard to believe, they may or may not be painful. The patient generally has a swollen leg, foot or ankle and may feel burning or itching. There may also be a rash, redness, brown discoloration or dry, scaly skin.

Dr. Alpern explains that there are three most common types of leg, ankle and foot ulcers.

“The three most common types of leg and foot ulcers include venous statis ulcers, neurotrophic (diabetic) ulcers, and arterial or ischemic ulcers,” says Dr. Alpern.

Dr. Alpern continues, “The type of ulcers is typically defined by the appearance of the ulcer, the ulcer location, and the way the borders and surrounding skin of the ulcer look. As the ultimate consequence of untreated venous stasis and severe venous hypertension (high blood pressure), leg ulcers make life almost unbearable for patients.”

Dr. Alpern states that the disease process behind leg ulcers is caused by venous insufficiency.

“When valves in leg veins become incompetent, vein blood flow reverses. This increases blood pressure in the venous system and is called venous hypertension, Dr. Alpern says. “Usually patients will notice the formation of spider veins and varicose veins in the early stages as these superficial veins dilate or become engorged. With worsening venous stasis and congestion, the increased venous pressure causes swelling as fluid leaks into surrounding tissues.”

“As the condition worsens, the skin thickens and becomes discolored due to impaired capillary exchange of nutrients and wastes. Eventually tissue death results, producing venous leg ulcers and the potential for a severe infection around the ulcer called cellulitis. Venous leg ulcers and the associated symptoms are collectively called chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. Problems in the saphenous and perforator vein systems are generally found in patients with these conditions.”

Often, patients with stasis leg ulcers are misdiagnosed and mismanaged. Swollen, aching legs, difficulty standing and walking, restless legs, brownish discolored leathery skin, and infected leg ulcers are constant reminders of the agony of venous disease.

They may be treated for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) or sent for symptomatic wound care treatment. In spite of weeks to months of wound treatment, their ulcers resist healing. When ulcers and cellulitis, the surrounding infection fails to resolve, patients are often told that amputation is their only alternative.

Patients treated by Dr. Alpern, D.O., cardiovascular surgeon and vein specialist at VSA, arrive with stories of despair related to decades of suffering and treatment failures. Their anxiety and disbelief is rapidly transformed as they get their life and health restored from simple, relatively painless office procedures performed with a single needle stick. Recovery is rapid, leg ulcers heal and related symptoms are permanently eliminated.

Vein Specialists of Arizona provides treatment of venous stasis leg ulcers, offering state-of-the-art vascular surgery procedures performed by Dr. Alpern and the vein specialists at VSA including Dr. Gary Kersten, M.D. The vein treatment  is performed in the office from a single needle stick with a local anesthetic. Comfortable Saphenous and Perforator Laser or Radio Frequency ablation procedures at VSA are well tolerated. Most patients resume walking immediately after the procedure and return to normal activities within a few days to a week. The first “step” is to call for an appointment at VSA.

At Vein Specialists of Arizona (VSA), treatment always begins with a screening exam by an experienced Board Certified physician, surgeon and who is also a vein specialist. Let us help you regain a quality of life you thought was not even possible.


Vein Specialists of Arizona (VSA) is a state-of-the-art vein center that defines a new standard in care for the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins, spider veins, leg ulcers and chronic venous insufficiency. From vein treatments that correct existing underlying pathology to procedures that erase spider veins before the patient’s eyes, we think you will find VSA to be your best choice for venous issues.  Your compassionate, effective, safe, affordable and convenient vein treatment at VSA begins with an ultrasound screening exam. Please visit website, or call 623-428-0068.



Dr. Jeffrey Alpern is a Cardiovascular Surgeon who was the first D.O. to perform a heart and heart/lung transplant in the world. Among his other impressive qualifications, Dr. Alpern trained at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic and was Surgical Director of Heart and Lung Transplantation at both Temple University and Hahnemann University Hospitals in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He currently is Director and founding member of Desert Cardiovascular Surgeons in Phoenix, and of Vein Specialists of Arizona recently located in the West Valley. Dr. Jeffrey Alpern, D.O is one of a handful of surgeons worldwide to use fast, virtually painless, safe and effective laser ablation and radiofrequency (RF) techniques for the treatment of existing varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency and venous leg ulcers.