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Back On His Feet

For Densely Sayers, a Baltimore city resident and local restaurant chef, 13 years of pain began with a simple scratch. The wound, caused by Sayers’ own fingernail, seemed small at the time, he says. But months later when it had not healed and began spreading, he knew something was wrong. “It went from my knee, all the way down to my ankle,” Sayers says.

Each year, despite countless efforts to treat his wound at home, it grew larger, the pain continued to escalate, and he was taking numerous pain relievers each day. Sayers, 45, could barely walk, choosing to move around on his knees instead of his feet to get by with less pain. His inability to stand at work not only cost him his mobility but also cost him his job as a chef. He was resigned to working in the warehouse because of his disability.

When Sayers’ right leg developed a similar wound, he finally went for help. He visited multiple hospitals across the region, but the treatments provided to him, including elevating his leg and dressing his wounds, didn’t work. Then a friend recommended the Wound Healing Center at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

The Road to Recovery

When Sayers arrived at the Wound Healing Center, the wound on his left leg had severely deteriorated. “It was getting deeper and the pain became intolerable,” he says. Zacharias Mavrophilipos, MD, a general surgeon at the Wound Healing Center, evaluated Sayers and diagnosed his condition as venous ulcers, one of the many wound types treated at the Center.

According to Dr. Mavrophilipos, venous ulcers occur when leg veins don’t properly return blood back to the heart. Usually, they form on the sides of the lower leg, above the ankles and below the calf. They are caused by poor blood circulation in the legs and, if left untreated, can lead to infection or even blood poisoning.

“Mr. Sayers’ wounds caused years of suffering and pain,” Dr. Mavrophilipos says. “He needed immediate treatment to prevent the condition from worsening.” Wound care treatment can be complex, depending on the type of wound, Dr. Gopal says. Treatment often involves a combination of therapies for optimal healing. “Patients shouldn’t be afraid to see a specialist, especially if their wounds have not begun to heal in four weeks,” he says.

“The best way to get a wound healed is constant attention and monitoring on at least a weekly basis,” Dr. Gopal says. For Sayers, treatment included debridement and twice-a-week compression therapy–applying a firm compression bandage or graduated elastic medical compression stocking to the leg.

“By removing the damaged tissue from his leg and implementing compression therapy, we were able to get Mr. Sayers literally back on his feet again,” Dr. Mavrophilipos says. Within six months, Sayers had returned to the kitchen, cooking for a local catering company. He now walks, and even runs, without pain. “I’m thankful every day for the care I received at the Wound Healing Center,” he says.