Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why does my bruised leg look discolored days later?"
Hi. I'm a 28 year old female soccer player and the bruises on my leg always stay discolored a long time. Why does this happen?
This is normal. A bruise is usually caused by damage to small blood vessels and capillaries under the skin. As a result, the blood trickles out of the blood cells into the subcutaneous tissues (under your skin). This looks dark red/maroon at first, which is the normal color of blood. As time progresses, your body tries to heal the damage. It clots off and repairs the damaged blood vessels. As part of this healing process, the body also tries to clean up any dead tissue (old blood cells that came out of the blood vessels). In order to get rid of the old blood under your skin, the blood cells are first broken down, and the Hemoglobin (which is the main molecule in your red blood blood cells) is broken down into multiple components, one of which is biliverdin, which has a green pigment/color appearance. Biliverdin is then converted into bilirubin which has a yellowish, orange color to is. This is what causes the discoloration in bruises. It is part of normal healing and usually is not something to be concerned about, especially in a setting of getting hit hard by a soccer ball (or vice versa). That being said, if you feel that you bruise too easily then there may be an underlying problem and you should consult your primary care physician or hematologist.
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