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Obesity and Varicose Veins

Posted: October 18, 2016   |   Revised: October 19, 2016

obesity and varicose veinsWhile being overweight has become more and more common across America, Tennessee currently ranks as the 14th highest in the Nation for adult obesity at 31.2%. That percentage is up from 20.9% in 2000, which was up from 11.1% in 1990.[1]

As a Nation and as a State our problem with weight is increasing, and with it, are obesity related health problems like premature arthritis and diabetes.  And while we see information about these issues in the news every day, we sat down with Dr. Stephen Daugherty – Medical Director of VeinCare Centers of Tennessee, to learn about The linkage between obesity and varicose veins, and the complications being overweight bring to treatment and results.

What is the relationship between Obesity and Varicose Veins?

According to Dr. Stephen F. Daugherty, “Abdominal obesity results in higher venous pressures in the legs which, over time, stretches the vein walls resulting in varicose veins.”

“Abdominal obesity (excess weight around the belly) increases the pressure on the veins in the abdomen and pelvic region.  Because these veins do not have a strong wall holding them open, pressure on the veins will compress the vein walls, effectively obstructing the veins.” Dr. Daugherty continues, “In order for blood in the veins of the legs to get back to the heart, the blood must build up enough pressure in the veins of the legs to force the veins in the pelvis and abdomen open for the blood to get back to the heart.”

Does Obesity complicate diagnosis?

“Yes, obesity does complicate diagnosis of many medical problems including vein abnormalities.” Explains Dr. Daugherty.  “Most medical imaging is made more difficult by severe obesity and the clinical exam can be less revealing of abnormalities hidden within layers of fatty tissue.”

Does Obesity complicate treatment?

According to Dr. Daugherty “Treatment of venous disorders is complicated by obesity.  The risk of abnormal clotting during many surgical procedures and vein treatments, especially deep vein thrombosis, increases with increasing obesity.  Within the thighs, the fatty tissue may be very deep requiring treatment of veins quite some distance below the skin.  This can make treatment technically more difficult and imaging for guidance of procedures deep in the fatty tissue may be more difficult.” Severe obesity may limit the options for treatment as well.

Does Weight Loss help reduce the risk of Varicose Vein Formation and Symptoms?

“Weight loss often makes a very big difference in leg symptoms including the aching, pain, swelling, or restless leg syndrome associated with varicose veins.  Reducing the pressure on the veins in the abdomen and pelvis through weight loss lowers the pressure in the leg veins.” So yes, making an effort to lose weight will make a difference and is important to maximize treatment options and results.

“We want patients to know that treating the underlying varicose veins can bring a great deal of relief from the pain and discomfort. And when a patient feels better, they are more likely to make lifestyle changes that are required for long term optimum results.”

Final Thoughts

“If you are suffering from Leg Pain, Leg Aches, Leg Swelling or Restless Legs (a desire to move your legs at night in bed) or if you have visible bulging veins that you can see, don’t wait to seek treatment because you are overweight.” Says Dr. Daugherty, “Just know that making an effort to lose weight during and after treatment will improve your quality of life and help us to provide you with the most effective treatment and results possible.”  Call us now at (931) 246-7344 to schedule your Vein Health Consultation.

About Dr. Daugherty

Stephen F. Daugherty, MD graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 1975 and he earned his Doctor of Medicine, Cum Laude, from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1979 and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine (Vein Medicine).  He is also the Only Fellow of the American College of Phlebology located in Tennessee.  Dr. Daugherty also is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Daugherty is a regular expert speaker at major National Meetings of Vein Specialists and has been selected by the American College of Phlebology as a representative to the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission which is embarking upon developing an accreditation for vein treatment facilities, a process intended to improve the quality of care in vein centers.

Dr. Daugherty and his wife, a medical school classmate, reside in Clarksville, TN which is also the location of his practice:  VeinCare Centers of Tennessee.

[1] These statistics are from the State of Obesity, an initiative of the Trust for American Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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