Finding Answers

A number of health conditions can lead to swelling in your limbs, and some are more serious than others, according to SLUCare vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Smeds. It’s important to meet with an experienced physician who can look at the whole picture and offer options to treat underlying issues, he says.

“Limb swelling can be caused by vascular or lymphatic problems,” Smeds explains. “It can be the result of venous incompetency, which means the superficial or deep veins aren’t working efficiently, or it can be caused by blockages in the channels that circulate lymph in the body.” Swelling happens when excess fluid becomes trapped in the body’s tissues, and it’s especially common in the legs. Conditions like obesity and heart disease also can play a role.

Cindy Matlock, a teacher from Sunset Hills, recently was diagnosed with venous insufficiency and varicose veins in her legs. Swelling, fatigue and pain were interfering with her daily activities, and she needed relief. “Everywhere I went, I had to look around for a chair,” she says. “Even while cooking dinner, I had to sit down between chopping food and standing at the stove. I dealt with the discomfort for years.” Matlock saw SLUCare advanced practice nurse Karen Gregory for endovenous laser vein treatments, and she says the results have been very satisfying. The outpatient procedure helped restore proper circulation and allowed her to return to normal activities. “I’m able to engage much more with my students now,” Matlock explains. “I can’t say enough good things about SLUCare staff. They are very knowledgeable and caring.”

To help patients like Matlock, SLUCare recently established a program to treat venous and lymphatic disease at University Tower in Richmond Heights. The physician group already offered comprehensive care for people with these issues, but now they can receive services in one location. Smeds says physicians, nurses and staff work as a team to help patients understand their health concerns and be partners in their own healing. He and his colleagues have special expertise in venous disease and lymphedema, and their collective knowledge translates into more effective, targeted care for patients.

A big part of SLUCare’s mission is to deliver both comfort and convenience, he adds. “We meet with patients to discuss family and medical history and offer tailored treatment to alleviate symptoms, prevent conditions from progressing and put their minds at ease,” he says. “We decide if compression or laser therapy is needed, or more in-depth treatment like surgery. Our multidisciplinary team means they don’t have to visit multiple offices for care.”

Smeds says he and his colleagues gain a great deal of satisfaction from helping patients thrive. “We can diagnose, provide relief and return people to a better quality of life—including those who have gone elsewhere without getting the results they need,” he says. “We are devoted to helping patients find the right answers, and we can do it in one location.”

SLUCare Physician Group provides a team approach to patient care for people with venous and lymphatic disease, including limb swelling. Doctors see patients at University Tower in Richmond Heights. Pictured on the cover: Vascular surgeon Dr. Adam Ring, plastic surgeon Dr. Kyle Xu, vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Smeds, advanced practice nurse Karen Gregory. For more information, visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group

Pictured at top: Vascular surgeon Dr. Adam Ring assists a patient.
Photo courtesy of SLUCare Physician Group

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Finding Answers
A number of health conditions can lead to swelling in your limbs, and some are more serious than others, according to SLUCare vascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Smeds.
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