Varicose veins are enlarged veins that bulge out on the legs. They develop when blood begins to pool in the vessels because the valves that are in place to keep it from flowing backwards are no longer working properly. Since the blood in the legs must return to the heart against the force of gravity, it can actually flow backwards if the valves do not prevent it from doing so. The increased pressure against the walls of the veins that comes about because of the pooling will cause the veins to enlarge. When this happens, they are often visible through the skin. At times, they can even bulge out, giving the appearance of cords under the skin that are usually blue.
In some cases, varicose veins are simply an aesthetic problem. Often, however, they can produce symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness and tingling. These symptoms can truly impact your quality of life.
Varicose veins often develop during pregnancy. This is because, as the baby grows, the extra weight and volume puts pressure on the pelvic veins. This pressure is transmitted into the veins in the legs, causing them to dilate and enlarge. The buildup of pressure causes the veins to become varicose. As pregnancy advances, the veins typically enlarge and become more symptomatic.
Depending on where the veins are located, they may disappear after childbirth, or they may remain. While varicose veins can be treated by one or a combination of methods, treatment is not usually recommended during pregnancy, aside from the use of conservative treatments like compression stockings. Instead, measures are usually recommended to prevent their development or minimize their impact.
Avoiding prolonged standing or sitting during pregnancy whenever possible can go a long way in minimizing the effect of varicose veins. If you are pregnant, lying on your left side can help to take the pressure off the vessels that have the tendency to become varicose. Likewise, elevating the legs can be helpful. Another thing our doctor might recommend during this phase of your life is the wearing of compression stockings. This helps to squeeze the vessels in ways that can be helpful in preventing them from becoming enlarged.
A common misconception (often improperly advised by Ob-Gyns) is to wait until you’re done having all your babies prior to have your varicose veins fixed. This is not the best advice as with each successive pregnancy, your varicose veins will likely get worse, resulting in even more work being needed when you finally get treatment to resolve your problem.
If your varicose veins do not go away within a reasonable time after childbirth, you might want to consider having them treated. This is especially true if they are causing symptoms, or you are bothered by their appearance. A number of non-surgical treatment methods are available. The best time to undergo treatment is between pregnancies. If possible, your treatment would be done after you’re done breastfeeding, but as an alternative, you can actually undergo treatment while you are still nursing by pumping and discarding your breast milk on the day of treatment and for several days afterward and then resume breastfeeding.
During a consultation at Beach Cities Vein and Laser Center in El Segundo, Dr. Rayman can explain what is best in your situation. We are happy to serve clients in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to learn more.