Varicose veins appear most commonly in the legs and are those enlarged, bulging vessels that are often visible through the skin. They can resemble twisted cords in appearance. Women are more susceptible to developing varicose veins during pregnancy. The tendency to develop them can be hereditary, so if your mother had them while she was pregnant, you are more likely to develop them during pregnancy yourself. Also, if you developed them during a previous pregnancy, you are almost certain to get them during subsequent pregnancies.
The reason varicose veins are more common in the legs is the blood flow is being pumped against the pull of gravity as it is returned to the heart. To counteract the gravitational pull, the veins have valves in them that help to prevent the blood from flowing backwards toward the feet. If these valves become damaged or don’t function as they should for any other reason, the blood in these vessels can begin to back up. This causes the veins to become enlarged and varicose veins to develop.
During pregnancy, the increasing size and weight of the uterus puts added pressure on the veins. This makes it more difficult for the blood to be returned to the heart. In addition, blood volume increases during this time because you are supporting not just one circulatory system, but two. This increase in the amount of blood in the body also increases the pressure on the walls of the veins, making them susceptible to enlargement.
One thing to consider if you develop varicose veins during pregnancy is whether or not you had them before becoming pregnant. If you did not, it is more likely that they will disappear over the course of the first few months following the birth of your child. This could play an important role in whether or not our specialist feels like they should be treated. It is highly likely that our specialist will choose to wait until after childbirth to consider treatment options.
There are some things that can be done while you are pregnant to minimize the effects of varicose veins. One thing you can do while sitting is put your feet up. Since the pull of gravity is a factor in the development of varicose veins, putting your feet up takes away much of the resistance to proper blood flow that gravity causes.
Exercise can also help to reduce the severity of varicose veins during pregnancy, especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle, such as a job during which you sit most of the day. Taking breaks to walk around several times during the day can be of great benefit during this time in your life.
If you are pregnant and notice the development of varicose veins, or if you have a family history of them, you should have a conversation with our experts at Beach Cities Vein and Laser Center about what treatments or control measures should be considered to deal with the potential effects of varicose veins. Dr. Rayman and his team will know what your best options after evaluating you and your medical history. Located in El Segundo, we proudly serve the Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to learn more.