Are Varicose Veins Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a time of phenomenal change for a woman’s body. As you get ready for your baby’s arrival, you may notice some unexpectedly pleasant differences, like thicker hair, glowing skin or a fuller bust. Unfortunately, not all changes that come with childbearing are desirable. You may also experience mood swings, weight gain, frequent urination and unsightly, uncomfortable varicose veins.
For some expectant mothers, varicose veins are merely a swollen, twisted, multicolored nuisance. For others, they can cause a great deal of pain or discomfort, and may be indicative of underlying vein disease. These veins often appear in the legs, but can also form in other parts the body, including the genital area.
If you are concerned about maintaining your vein health during pregnancy, the vein specialists of Capitol Vein & Laser Centers are here to help. Below, we answer a few frequently asked questions about varicose veins, pregnancy and vein disease.
Why do varicose veins happen during pregnancy?
Varicose veins aren’t exclusive to pregnancy, but pregnancy can accelerate their arrival or make them worse. Leg veins contain one-way valves that help blood move up against gravity back to the heart. When these valves weaken, blood flows backward into the legs and pools, causing the veins to swell and become visible at the surface of the skin. Varicose veins tend to be hereditary and often occur in older age.
For pregnant women, additional factors are at play that make varicose veins more likely to develop or worsen. The volume of blood in your body grows significantly during pregnancy, yet the number of veins you have remains the same, forcing your vascular system to work harder than normal. The expansion of your uterus in your abdomen challenges your veins further by exerting downward pressure on blood flow. Add to that the weight gain and the blood vessel-relaxing effects of the extra hormones your body is releasing, and you have a recipe for varicose veins.
You may develop visible veins in early pregnancy, but they tend to become larger and more pronounced as you get farther along. Varicose veins are often worse with multiples or subsequent pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Treating your varicose veins can not only make your legs look better, but it can also alleviate symptoms like the following:
- An uncomfortable, heavy feeling in your legs
- Swollen legs, ankles or feet
- Leg cramps, achiness or throbbing
- Itchiness and/or discolored skin around the veins
Are varicose veins serious? Should I worry about my varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a medical condition that worsens over time.The complaints we most often hear is that they are ugly and the legs ache, itch, burn or cramp.. Varicose veins and associated discomfort that occurs during pregnancy can typically be managed with leg elevation, compression hose, hydration and walking for exercise.The average varicose vein will not harm you or your baby.However if the varicose veins become inflamed, red, painful or you experience sudden onset of leg swelling, you should be seen right away by a vascular and vein specialist.These symptoms could be sign of a blood clot and that is serious In rare occasions a varicose vein can burst or be nicked by a razor and bleed profusely.If this happens, apply pressure and an ice pack to the area and elevate your leg above your heart.Long term, advanced, untreated varicose veins caused by, venous insufficiency (the inability of the veins to return blood to the heart adequately) can result in scaling and inflammation of your skin, or sores on your legs called venous ulcers.
How can varicose veins be managed during pregnancy?
Conservative measures are typically recommended for pregnancy-related varicose veins. These tips can lower your risk of developing varicose veins and/or relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of existing varicose veins:
- Engage in low impact, circulation-increasing exercise such as walking or heel raises
- Limit your weight gain to the healthy range recommended by your doctor
- Regularly change positions — stand up if you’ve been sitting and sit down if you’ve been standing
- Keep your legs uncrossed while seated so you don’t impede circulation
- Set aside time to sit or recline with your legs elevated
- Wear compression knee high stockings to encourage proper blood flow
- Drink lots of water
- Reduce your salt intake
- Sleep on your left side to decrease pressure on your inferior vena cava
- Avoid wearing heels or tight-fitting shoes and clothing
Do varicose veins go away after pregnancy?
Varicose veins often shrink after your pregnancy, but may not go away completely.If they do disappear, this is usually a temporary thing and you can bet they will reappear worse during your next pregnancy. The more severe your varicose veins are, the more likely they are to stubbornly stick around. Regardless, it would be beneficial to have a venous ultrasound done 6-10 weeks post-partum to assess your vein circulation. This diagnostic test will be a predictor of the future of your varicose veins and leg health.
How can I treat varicose veins when I’m ready?
Capitol Vein & Laser Centers offers an array of treatments from the non-invasive lasers to minimally invasive procedures that benefit the largest of varicose veins.These treatments are done in the office in less than an hour and you can drive yourself to and from your appontment Most medical insurances including BCBS, CIGNA, Aetna, United Health Care, Medicare and Medicaid cover varicose vein treatments that are medically indicated. Our varicose vein treatment options include:
- Venaseal™: a revolutionary procedure that uses medical-grade "glue" to seal the incompetent vein
- VNUS Closure: the gold standard for varicose vein treatment, in which radiofrequency energy is used to seal the vein
- ClariVein®: a technology that combines sclerotherapy with mechanical trauma to damage the vein wall and seal the vein closed
- Varithena: an FDA-approved chemical ablation treatment involving an injected microfoam sclerosant
- Microphlebectomy: an in-office procedure to remove larger varicose veins that do not respond to previously performed treatments
- Sclerotherapy: micro-injections using a tiny needle to administer a medication which causes an unhealthy non-functioning vein to spasm and collapse.This improves the circulation, forcing blood to circulate via healthy functioning vessels.
Treating Varicose Veins in Pregnancy and Postpartum
The last things you want to see during your pregnancy are more unwanted changes to your body. Fortunately, varicose veins rarely represent a serious health concern for expectant mothers and many fade on their own once pregnancy is over. If your varicose veins don’t resolve naturally after delivery, we can help you take back control of your life. Our vein specialists, Drs. Paul McNeill and Garth Rosenberg, offer minimally-invasive, office-based vein treatments that can alleviate your symptoms and leave you with clear, beautiful skin.
Request your appointment online or give us a call at 301-581-0170 to discover how Capitol Vein & Laser Centers can help restore your post-pregnancy body.