Dr. Manjulatha Badam is trained and board-certified in internal medicine, advanced wound care, and hyperbaric medicine. She has more than 15 years of clinical experience in treating complex chronic wounds.
Her practice, Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics in San Antonio, Texas, is known for its innovative approach to highly successful wound care services delivered in a welcoming and compassionate environment that’s always patient-focused.
Dr. Badam discusses the nature of chronic wounds and the importance of obtaining comprehensive specialty care for wounds that aren't healing as expected.
What is a chronic wound?
Skin wounds typically undergo a complex four-step healing process that’s triggered by your body’s natural ability to repair itself.
Depending on the size, location, and cause of the injury, the process is usually complete within three months, but it may take years.
The four stages of natural wound repair include:
- Stopping the bleeding (hemostasis) with clotting factors in your blood
- Cleaning and healing the wound (inflammatory stage) with infection-fighting white blood cells and other components
- Rebuilding the damaged area with increased collagen production (proliferative stage) and new tissue growth
- Strengthening or remodeling of the site (maturation), which continues even after the wound appears healed
Your body normally completes the wound-healing process in an orderly fashion that progresses from one step to the next over several weeks.
Chronic wounds are those that don’t heal as expected or remain stalled in the inflammatory phase. Any wound, from a small abrasion to a long surgical incision, can become chronic.
What causes chronic wounds?
When a wound does not progress out of the inflammatory phase, your body cannot undertake the tissue rebuilding and maturation processes that occur in stages three and four, so the wound becomes chronic.
This is often related to circulatory problems that prevent healthy blood flow to the area. The additional oxygen, infection-fighting elements, nutrients, and tissue rebuilding materials your body uses to heal a wound travel through the bloodstream.
In some cases, chronic wounds are related to a bacterial or fungal infection that your body is unable to overcome. Unfortunately, a nonhealing wound also increases your risk of developing an infection that may spread to other areas.
Medical conditions that can impede wound healing include:
Age can also play a role in chronic wounds since we tend to heal more slowly as we age. Prolonged immobility related to illness or injury can impede wound healing and also increases your risk of developing chronic pressure ulcers/wounds (bedsores).
Why should I seek treatment for a chronic wound?
As is the case with many medical conditions, early and appropriate treatment can help prevent the long-term health consequences of chronic wounds.
Left untreated, chronic wounds can enlarge dramatically in circumference as well as depth. The damage may eventually involve other tissue structures beneath the skin’s surface, including muscles and bone.
This leads to significant pain and greatly affects your mobility and overall quality of life. The infection related to chronic wounds can also cause tissue death (gangrene) and travel through your bloodstream to other organs.
You may eventually require limb amputation to stop the infection and other medical complications related to chronic wounds.
How does wound care help?
At Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics, we provide comprehensive wound care that’s personalized to fit your needs while enhancing your body’s natural healing abilities.
Your strategy may include:
- Antibiotics to help fight infection
- Skin grafting or skin substitutes
- Collagen and other advanced wound dressings
- Surgical wound debridement of dead or dying tissue
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to increase oxygen levels at the site
- Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) to draw infection out of the wound
- Compression bandaging to improve circulation
It’s also important to address the underlying issues that may be causing poor wound healing. Thus, your plan may include treatment for PAD, venous insufficiency, or recommendations for improved management of diabetes.
Regardless of the cause, don’t wait to seek treatment for wounds that aren’t healing. Schedule your evaluation today by calling our Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics office or requesting an appointment online.