The 4 Stages of Wound Healing

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The 4 Stages of Wound Healing

If you have diabetes, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), peripheral artery disease (PAD), or a similar condition that affects the flow of resources to your lower limbs, a minor wound can become a major problem, very quickly.

In fact, up to a quarter of people with diabetes, for example, will develop a foot ulcer at some point — and these foot ulcers can have a tough time following the normal healing process.

If you’re at risk for problematic lower leg, ankle, and/or foot wounds, it can be helpful to learn a little bit about the healing processes, which is the goal of this month’s blog post. In the following, Dr. Thomas Rambacher, a double-board certified surgeon here at Foot Ankle Leg Wound Care Orange County, explains the four stages of wound healing.

1. Hemostasis

When there’s a break in your skin, or in any tissue, your body’s first response is to stop the bleeding, which is called hemostasis. First your blood vessel constricts, and then platelets in your blood flood the area. These flat cells plug the breach and start the clotting process, which creates a temporary barrier that prevents more blood loss.

2. Inflammation

Next up in the wound healing cascade is inflammation, which is your body’s way of creating an environment in which it can heal. During homeostasis, your blood vessels constrict. During the inflammation stage, they open up wide to allow healing resources in, which is why you might see outward swelling.

These resources include a group of all-important white blood cells called macrophages, which clean the wound and fight off infection. Also, your platelets release growth factors that call for rebuilding resources to come in to start the repair process.

3. Proliferation

In this third stage of wound healing, the resources called in by the growth factors arrive. Red blood cells, collagen, stem cells — they all come together to rebuild the damaged tissues.

4. Remodeling

During the proliferation stage, the rush of collagen can lead to scar tissue, which might be red, puffy, and a bit sensitive at first. Below this tissue, your body is still hard at work, remodeling the wounded area in a more sustainable way. This stage is also referred to as maturation or strengthening.

When wound healing doesn’t progress

In order for the wound healing to be successful, it needs to follow the four stages we outline above in a timely manner. One group of researchers put it best when they said, “Wound healing, as a normal biological process in the human body, is achieved through four precisely and highly programmed phases: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. For a wound to heal successfully, all four phases must occur in the proper sequence and time frame.”

When you have a medical condition that affects the circulation in your lower limbs, you’re at serious risk for not being able to heal because not enough resources are reaching the wound to create this systematic and timely healing.

As an expert in slow-healing wounds, Dr. Rambacher can step in at this point to keep the wound healing progressing by making up for lost resources.

If you have additional questions about wound healing and wound care, we invite you to call our office in Mission Viejo, California, at 949-832-6081 or request an appointment online today.