What can be done if a wound doesn't heal in someone with diabetes?

Therapies such as angioplasty or bypass surgery are used to treat non-healing wounds in people with diabetes. Skin substitutes and growth-factor products manufactured in the lab also offer approaches to address the problem. Hyperbaric therapy, which infuses high-pressure oxygen into tissue to kill infectious bacteria and stimulate wound healing, is also an option for some people. An arterial-assist device—a blood-pressure-type cuff that applies compression to the foot, ankle and calf to circulate blood flow—represents another noninvasive option that
can be used at home.

“We see dramatic improvement in diabetic wound patients treated using the right approach,” says Steven Farley, MD, medical director of the UCLA Center for Wound Healing and Limb Preservation. “The bottom line is that diabetic patients with wounds that linger for more than a month should seek care,” Dr. Farley says.

If someone with diabetes has a wound that doesn't heal, he or she should talk with a doctor about it. The sooner the wound is properly managed, the less likely an extreme measure, such as an amputation, will be needed. Wound treatment techniques can include:

  • antibiotics
  • compression therapy
  • debridement, or removal of dead or damaged tissue
  • nutritional management
  • pain management
  • physical therapy
  • special dressings or wraps
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy

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