Minor cuts and scrapes are a regular part of life. You were likely young when you began to take your body’s amazing healing abilities for granted. That injury stopped bleeding, formed a scab, and eventually disappeared, leaving no sign that anything ever happened.
You may notice the process gets slower with age. That’s a natural progression, as long as your body goes through the four healing stages in reasonable time. Wounds that refuse to clear up are another matter, and potentially a sign of circulatory issues.
Slow healing injuries are a good reason to visit Memphis Vein Center to rule out serious health problems. Dr. Kishore K. Arcot and his team have the expertise to diagnose and treat vascular issues that may be interfering with your healing processes. It’s an important condition that you should never ignore.
The four steps of normal healing
It doesn’t matter whether you sustain an injury through an accident, fall, scrape, or surgery, your body has a four-part process through which it repairs your injury.
Stage 1: Hemostasis
First, your body stops any bleeding. This process, known as hemostasis, starts within seconds or at most minutes after tissue damage occurs, clotting your blood at the site of the injury.
Stage 2: Inflammation
Once a plug forms, blood vessels in the area deliver fresh nutrients and oxygen to the wound to provide the raw materials for healing. White blood cells work to fight infection, and you might notice warmth, slight swelling, and small amounts of clear liquid escaping the wound.
Stage 3: Growth and proliferation
Your body starts producing tissue to repair the damage and close the wound. It’s like a biological construction site, with oxygen-rich blood delivering the raw materials and chemical signals to rebuild connective tissues.
Stage 4: Maturation
In most cases, a wound is fully closed within three months, though this “remodelling” process can continue on a cellular level for a few years. At this stage, you may notice itching, puckering, or stretching around your wound, which usually fades with time depending on its original severity. New tissue is strong and healthy, but it only regains about 80% of its pre-injury strength.
Why wounds don’t heal
Wounds need a supply of oxygen, nutrients, and other vital growth factors to heal promptly and properly. Without a healthy blood supply to the damaged tissue, progress may be significantly impacted and could lead to chronic and potentially dangerous problems.
Common types of chronic wounds include:
- Arterial wounds due to poor blood flow
- Diabetic ulcers
- Surgical wounds
- Wounds caused by radiation therapy
- Traumatic ulcers due to puncture wounds
- Venous ulcers in the legs
Signs of healing problems
Most wounds begin to heal within a few weeks, but chronic wounds that won’t close properly are a problem for as many as 6.5 million Americans. There are some common signs besides healing times that indicate injuries aren’t progressing normally, such as:
- Swelling, warmth, or redness surrounding the wound
- The irritated area spreads rather than shrinks
- Wound oozes liquid or pus
- Wound smells foul
- Increased tenderness or pain at the site
- Discolored or darker skin
Any wound that takes longer than four weeks to heal can be considered chronic. You’ll need medical attention by a professional wound care specialist such as Dr. Arcot. Without treatment, you increase your risk of serious health complications, such as advanced or systemic infection and tissue loss, and you may even risk limb amputation. When you have comorbidities such as diabetic and vascular disease, your window to seek medical attention will be shorter than four weeks.
Contact Memphis Vein Center at the first sign of slow wound healing. You can call the office directly at 901-310-2771, or request an appointment online. Dr. Arcot and his team will evaluate both your injury and the reason for your slow healing.