Pregnancy tends to set up the perfect conditions for the formation of varicose veins. First, blood flow increases during the nine months of pregnancy, which increases the workload of the veins to get the blood back to the heart. At the same time, an expanding uterus compresses the abdominal and pelvic veins, which partially obstructs blood flow returning from the pelvis and legs. In addition, hormonal changes weaken the walls of the veins, which can cause the veins to enlarge.
This combination can impair the function of the valves inside the veins that are responsible for ensuring blood inside all flows in the same direction. Blood then begins to pool inside the veins of the pelvis and legs, leading to their enlargement. The result can be those bulging, twisting veins that appear on the outside of the skin, known as varicose veins.
Preventing Varicose Veins during Pregnancy
While there is no way to completely prevent varicose veins from developing during pregnancy, the following have proven helpful for some patients:
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time during pregnancy
- When you are seated, avoid crossing the legs and put your feet up whenever possible
- Try sleeping on your left side, with a pillow between the legs, to ease pressure on the primary vein in the abdomen which tends to be compressed by the uterus, the inferior vena cava.
- Follow a healthy diet and get regular exercise during pregnancy to avoid excess weight gain that can lead to the formation of varicose veins
- Wear appropriate compression stockings, which can be prescribed by your doctor
Treatment of Varicose Veins and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, conservative management (as described above), including the use of compression stockings, is really the only known safe treatment choice.
It is after pregnancy, however, and before your next one, where you can truly make a difference. In many instances patients are told by their obstetrician to wait until they are done having children prior to having their varicose veins treated. This is simply not good advice. The truth is that after varicose veins develop they tend to get larger and more symptomatic with each pregnancy. The sooner they are addressed, the less symptomatic you are…and the better the cosmetic result. The best time to treat them is right after you’re done breastfeeding…and before you get pregnant again.
If you’re one of the many women who have developed varicose veins during your pregnancy, don’t despair! There are many simple outpatient treatments for varicose veins. These treatments are comfortable and are most often covered by insurance. At Beach Cities Vein and Laser Center, we offer a wide range of varicose vein procedures that allow us to customize treatment to your specific needs and concerns.
If you want to eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms and unsightly appearance of varicose veins that developed during your pregnancy, contact Beach Cities Vein and Laser Center at (310) 986-6500 today. You’ll soon be on the road to smoother, more beautiful legs!