Bertha Finds Healing for Chronic Wound at Swedish Covenant Hospital

By Bill Ligas

In 2013, Bertha noticed a wound on her leg that wouldn’t heal. It continued to grow despite visiting many doctors and trying various treatments ranging from raw honey to medicated patches. The open sore continued to grow until it eventually became the size of an orange. 

Bertha’s daughter Sylvia searched online and discovered Dr. Michael Shao, a board-certified vascular surgeon with Swedish Covenant Medical Group. She was impressed with his expertise and scheduled an appointment at Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Wound Care Center

Dr. Shao utilized venous duplex ultrasound to determine that despite the wound’s appearance suggesting possible venous disease, her veins were functioning properly. The wound was actually due to lymphedema, a chronic condition where tissue fluid accumulates the legs, causing severe swelling and increasing the risk of skin infections and chronic wounds.  

Bertha was optimistic that Dr. Shao had found the answer. “I think he is finally the one who will help me,” Bertha said to Sylvia immediately after the first appointment. 

The wound was treated with a combination of specialized dressings, compression wraps and a home lymphedema pump, designed to massage the tissue fluid to help return it to the heart. The Wound Center also provides manual lymphedema massage from a certified lymphedema specialist.

Due to the size of the wound and the fact that it was a few years old, it was a long recovery, but as Bertha continued to visit Dr. Shao she began to see improvement and healing. At each appointment, Dr. Shao asked questions to make sure Bertha was following the prescribed treatment, as compliance and consistency are critical to heal chronic wounds. 

Over the next few months, Bertha’s fluid drainage decreased and her wound closed completely. She received a healing certificate to mark the milestone. 

Today, Bertha can’t believe the before and after photos. She’s thankful for the entire wound care team, including the amazing wound care nurses, Diane, Mary and Grace, and their collaborative and individualized approach to treatment.

“My parents are extremely happy for the treatment they received,” added Sylvia. “It has truly changed their lives. They are looking forward with a positive outlook and are very thankful to their doctors for giving them back a normal life.”


Michael Shao, M.D., is a board-certified vascular surgeon with Swedish Covenant Medical Group. His specialties include vascular surgery and wound care. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Shao, please call 773-989-3957. 

If you have an open wound, please call 773-989-6202 to schedule an appointment with the Wound Care Center. 

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