How Obesity Can Impact Wound Healing

How Obesity Increases The Risk Of Wound Development

One of the main ways in which obesity contributes to wound development is by increasing the risk of diabetes. Diabetes occurs when there is an increased level of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. The high level of sugar in the blood causes the blood vessels to narrow, decreasing circulation to the extremities. Like a chain reaction, the reduced circulation leads to limited sensation so a cut or blister will go unnoticed and possibly develop into a more massive wound. The increased sugar level also provides a prime environment in which bacteria can grow.

Wound progression in an obese person

An obese person has an excessive amount of adipose or fatty tissue. This tissue will overload the circulatory system which results in decreased oxygen and nutrients delivered to the wound. These two components are necessary for proper wound healing. Obesity has also been found to keep the body in a state of chronic inflammation which also contributes to decreased circulation and increased blood sugar levels.

Obesity and proper nutrition

Another way in which obesity can negatively impact wound healing is if the obese person is lacking in proper nutrients. Often an obese person takes in many empty calories or calories that might taste good but have little to no nutritional value. Proper wound healing requires vitamins, minerals and especially protein, so unhealthy eating habits can have an undesirable effect.

Collagen is a wound’s best friend

Collagen is an essential protein in wound healing. Collagen is normally abundant in the human body making up about 25% of all proteins and 70 to 80% of the skin’s composition. Collagen acts as building blocks in the healing process of wounds. Because adipose tissue is naturally lacking in proper circulation, it also has poor oxygenation. The absence of adequate oxygen prevents the formation of mature collagen which not only provides structure but also plays a part in processing other proteins necessary for wound healing.

Help heal the wound

A normal amount of healthy adipose tissue in the body is good however, like many substances, when in excess it can have a negative effect. In the short term, wound care must include adequate nutritional support and supplemental oxygen therapy. Finally, wound care has seen great advancements in the past few years including collagen-based care products that can help replace that which is absent in the obese patient. In the long term, studies have shown that even a 20-25lbs weight reduction can decrease the risk for diabetes related illness and reverse many of the effects of obesity.

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