Caring for Atypical Wounds in Patients With Severe Obesity: A Case Series : Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing

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Challenges in Practice

Caring for Atypical Wounds in Patients With Severe Obesity

A Case Series

Ciabattoni, Matthew; Ward, Amanda C.; Preston, Ave Maria

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Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing 50(1):p 78-83, January/February 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000926
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The prevalence of obesity has grown over the past several decades. It exerts a negative effect on multiple body systems, including the integumentary system, and it increases the risk for development of chronic diseases. Caring for hospitalized patients with severe obesity presents unique challenges, especially when wounds are present.


This article reviews 3 patients with severe obesity hospitalized with extensive full-thickness lower extremity wounds. In all 3 cases, the wounds were comparable to the presentation and evolution of a typical deep tissue pressure injury. In addition, none of the wounds were classified as pressure injuries. These extensive wounds seen in patients with severe obesity lack a clear etiology and pathophysiology, but present wound care nurses and other care providers with unique challenges well beyond evidence-based principles for selection of appropriate topical care.


These cases illustrate lessons learned when caring for 3 patients during several months of hospitalization at a large academic medical center. Additional research is needed to enhance our knowledge of the etiology of these wounds, especially since the population of patients with severe obesity has become more prevalent.

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Video 1 Caring for atypical wounds in patients with severe obesity: A case series.

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