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Dent formation on upper thigh, edema in ankles and legs post standing for long hours. What can be done?

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General Surgeon
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 5368 Questions
Hello Dr Grief! I'm 55 yrs old, in good health and an artist. After a recent project that entailed MANY long hours in the studio, many on my feet, sometimes 10 or more hrs at a time, I noticed a "dent" had formed across my upper right thigh. There is no discomfort or discoloration, I was just looking about on line and found one article by a fitness expert, referencing a doc, saying that prolonged pressing into something can cause this sort of thing. I just checked in the studio and indeed, the counter where my easel is is a perfect match for the "dent". Also, during the time when I was putting in these long hours, there was some edema in my ankles and legs. I am through the project now, and am taking it easy to restore my sleep and rest.

My questions to you are:
Is it probable that the "dent" is caused by this prolonged leaning into the counter along with the edema?
What, if anything, can I do to reverse it?

Thank you for your time.
Posted Thu, 6 Jun 2013 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 10 hours later

Thank you for the query.

You are right. Dent and swelling is most likely caused by prolonged compression.
Legs are a very specific part of our body where blood needs to travel against the gravity. Try to imagine how far is from your feet to the heart. All this way the blood needs to travel upstream. This is not an easy task. Such blood passage is possible thanks to calf muscle (which is a kind of pump) and veins valves. This valves prevents blood from receding.

Now, when you compress your thigh, every blood which is below, has impeded flow. Moreover, when sitting for a long time, your calf muscle is inactive. This two factors lead to increased pressure in the veins, impeded blood circulation. This increased pressure "pushes out" the water so it stays in the tissues. That is why swelling around the ankles appears. Long compression also pushes out water from the area of the compression so the dent appears.

You need to know that veins blood circulation disturbance can cause veins thrombosis.

I suggest you to have some short breaks every hour or so to activate your legs. When sitting, try to use your calf muscle from time to time. You may also try to change compression area from time to time. And if its possible, put your legs a little bit higher.

Hope this will help. Feel free to ask further questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Dent formation on upper thigh, edema in ankles and legs post standing for long hours. What can be done? 22 hours later
Thank you for that very helpful advice, I will endeavor to add the elements you suggest into my (work) routine.

my follow up questions are: Will this dent eventually go away; If so, what would be a reasonable time frame to expect that and what steps can I take to help that along?

Best Regards, XXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 10 minutes later

Due to long compression tissues in this area has changed its structure (mostly skin and fatty tissue). So it needs to take some time (like a week or two) for this tissues to regenerate. It is a slow process and time frames can vary.
It depends of how deep is the dent and for how long the compression were present.

Massage of this area is a good idea and should accelerate healing process.

Hope this will help.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Dent formation on upper thigh, edema in ankles and legs post standing for long hours. What can be done? 1 hour later
Thank you Dr Stanko for your helpful responses. I feel like I have a good understanding of the issue and a few good strategies to deal with it. Medical help at it's best I'd say!

Best Regards,XXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Grzegorz Stanko 7 hours later
You are welcome.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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