The clinic is run by consultant vascular surgeon Mr Bjorn Telgenkamp who is the chairman of the Sussex Diabetic Foot Steering Group. He explains more about the service.
Who will benefit from this new service in Bexhill?
I treat patients with a range of venous problems, but my clinic at Cooden Medical Group is for private patients who have chronic leg ulcers or foot problems owing to diabetes. Bexhill has the highest rate of diabetes in East Sussex so we hope that local people will find Cooden Medical Group a convenient place to come for their consultation and treatment.
What can patients expect when they come to the clinic?
Patients can book an appointment quickly and will always see me personally. I am supported by a very experienced team, including a specialist diabetic nurse. This means that we can develop and maintain a treatment plan that works well for the patient. All consultations and examinations, including ultrasound, are done in comfort and privacy at the Cooden Clinic.
Why are people with diabetes prone to foot problems?
Around 10% of people with diabetes will develop a condition known as “diabetic foot”. Diabetes, particularly when it’s not well controlled, can damage the veins and arteries supplying the feet with blood, which means that injuries don’t heal. But the disease also damages nerves so people with diabetes are less likely to notice that they have cut themselves or have blisters from badly fitting shoes because they can’t feel their feet. They may also not be able to see their feet if they are very overweight or have poor eyesight, both of which are associated with diabetes.
Why are regular foot checks important for people with diabetes?
Even the smallest blister or cut to the foot can soon become a chronic wound which refuses to heal so the sooner treatment starts the better. Getting the right treatment and advice as soon as possible will help to avoid a serious problem – there is good evidence to suggest that 80% of diabetes-related amputations are avoided by early medical intervention.
What are the causes and treatments for leg ulcers?
Like diabetic foot, leg ulcers are wounds that refuse to heal usually because of poor blood supply to the affected area. People with damaged arteries caused by peripheral arterial disease and cardiovascular disease are particularly prone to developing leg ulcers. While there is no cure for the underlying condition, we can treat the ulcer and improve circulation.
This may comprise compression, dressings, medication and even a surgical procedure. We are getting very good results with a relatively new procedure called venous stenting which involves inserting a tiny piece of scaffolding into the vein to keep it open. This allows the blood to flow freely back to the heart again.
What can patients do to help themselves?
The underlying medical conditions that cause leg ulcers and diabetic foot are exacerbated by being overweight, smoking and drinking excessively. Making healthy changes such as losing weight, taking more exercise and giving up smoking are really important factors in improving health. It’s the responsibility of the patient to make these changes happen but the team at Cooden Medical Group will provide support and guidance.