LEG DISCOLORATION Q & A
What Is Leg Discoloration?
Leg discoloration or hyperpigmentation, when caused by venous disease, is also called venous stasis dermatitis. Leg discoloration isthe appearance of dark purple andred blotches on the lower legs. The skin may also appear shiny, irritated, and look like it has a rash. Leg discoloration that is not caused by bruising, injury or allergic reactions can be a symptom of circulation problems, even if varicose veins are not visible. Leg discoloration can negatively affect patients’ confidence in their appearance.
What Are Leg Discoloration Symptoms?
Leg discoloration appears as dark purple, red and brown blotches on the legs, especially the lower legs. The skin may also appear shiny, irritated and look like it has a rash. Patients may experience swelling or edema also. As venous disease progresses, leg discoloration can also be accompanied by:
- Varicose veins
- Itching and burning
- Pain and discomfort
- Sores and ulcers
- Thickened skin
- Reduced leg hair
- Addition of yellow and brown blotches
Frequently Asked Questions
Leg Discoloration Patient Education
What Causes Leg Discoloration?
When circulation is poor, blood flow is congested and pressure builds in the veins. The pressure causes veins to leak, and blood pools. Iron from pooling red blood cells begins to stain lower leg skin, causing it to discolor and appear splotchy. Leg discoloration indicates that venous disease is present and, possibly, at an advanced stage. Two possible conditions that will cause leg discoloration are:
- Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) develops when vein valves are damaged and weak and stop working properly. Blood flows down into the legs instead of returning up to the heart. The blood pools, and veins begin to bulge and leak, causing leg discoloration and other symptoms.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition where blood clots form in deep veins of the leg. This not only affects blood flow, but a blood clot can travel through the body and cause an embolism.
Once underlying venous disease is treated, improved blood flow will help circulation and restore the skin tissue.
What Are Risk Factors for Leg Discoloration?
Patients diagnosed with vascular conditions are more likely to develop leg discoloration. It is more likely to occur in women and patients over age 50.
Can Leg Discoloration Be Prevented?
Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent leg discoloration from vascular disease. Plus, if there are any symptoms of circulation problems, early treatment will help prevent leg discoloration progression.
Does Leg Discoloration Need Treatment?
Yes. Leg discoloration that is not caused by injury, allergic reaction, or bruising can be a sign of vascular disease. It is important to see a vascular specialist for a diagnosis and treatment of the venous problems causing leg discoloration and other symptoms. Treatment will improve blood flow and prevent further deterioration. Also, if DVT is the underlying cause of leg discoloration, it is crucial that the blood clot be remedied before traveling through the bloodstream and causing an embolism.
What Are Leg Discoloration Treatments?
Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment may begin with conservative measures. These include:
- Compression stockings
- Losing weight, if applicable
- Elevation and rest
If symptoms continue or are severe, a vascular specialist may recommend advanced, minimally invasive treatments. The goal of these treatments is to restore circulation by eliminating diseased veins and blood clots. With proper treatment, blood is redirected to flow through healthy veins. Treatments include:
- Endovenous Ablation
What to Expect from Leg Discoloration Treatment?
Treating leg discoloration requires an accurate diagnosis of what is causing the problem. If after examining your legs, Dr. Eradat suspects venous disease conditions like CVI or DVT, he may recommend tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests can include duplex ultrasound or venography, a special kind of X-ray that uses dye to show the veins and any blood clots.
At Alliance, we use the latest protocols in advanced diagnostics and treatments for managing a patient’s vein and vascular issues. Patients of minimally invasive treatments for leg discoloration will be able to go home the same day as the procedure. Since only a small incision is needed, there are no stitches. Also, recovery time is much shorter than traditional surgery, so daily activities can often be resumed in 24 hours.