Motherhood and Veins: When is the Best Time for Treatment?
These legs belong to a patient of ours who is a mother of five children. OUCH. With each pregnancy, her varicose veins became larger, more numerous and more painful. At times, she could hardly walk due to her troublesome, engorged veins and swollen legs. Knowing that she wanted to have a large family, she inquired with her primary care physician and obstetrician to see if she should consider getting her varicose veins treated before her next pregnancy. She was advised to wait, because “the veins will probably come back.”
In our experience, this is not always the best advice. While each individual is different, we’ve seen many “moms to be” struggle with uncomfortable and sometimes clotted varicose veins during pregnancy. Management of symptoms during pregnancy is typically the only solution, as treatment is not recommended until after the baby is born. Compression hose, leg elevation and Tylenol for pain will help during pregnancy, but they are often not enough for expectant mothers to find complete relief.
The moms who opt to have treatment before expecting their next baby are much happier and comfortable once the veins are treated, as they are no longer in pain. Do the veins come back with the next pregnancy? Nope! Once a vein is removed, it cannot come back. Can a pregnant mom develop new varicose veins? Sure they can. But taking care of a few new varicose veins is simpler and safer than treating a multitude of complex, worsening varicosities that have progressed over multiple pregnancies.
What causes varicose veins?
A mom’s blood volume increases during pregnancy so that the fetus receives enough nutrients. As the pregnancy progresses, the enlarging uterus adds pressure to the intra-abdominal and intra-pelvic veins, causing increased pressure in the leg veins. Along with the added blood volume, there is damage and weakening of the leg veins, resulting in varicose veins. At the same time, hormone fluctuations can cause your veins to dilate, also impacting the blood flow.
Should I be concerned if my varicose veins hurt during my pregnancy?
Varicose veins and pregnancy both place one at higher risk for blood clots. If your veins are painful, feel firm or become red/ inflamed, it would be wise to see your doctor or schedule an appointment with a vein specialist without delay.
What about bulging veins in other areas during my pregnancy?
Yes, we often see painful varicosities on the labia and vulva during pregnancy as well. A cool compress with witch hazel held close to your perineum by snug fitting leggings or bike shorts often helps relieve some of the pressure from engorged veins. One handy tip is to purchase maxi pads and pour a cup of water into each pad. Place these in a freezer bag and store in your freezer for quick access on a painful vein day.
Dr. McNeill and Dr. Rosenberg have over 25 years of experience with treatment and management of varicose veins and blood clots. Whether you’re pregnant or not, seeking care with an experienced physician who is board certified in vascular surgery will offer the most beneficial outcomes with the least amount of downtime and risk. At Capitol Vein and Laser Centers, we offer a plethora of vein treatment options to allow a customized treatment plan for each individual. Dr. McNeill and Dr. Rosenberg’s wealth of knowledge allows them to treat patients with medical and/or cosmetic vein disease in a caring and compassionate way. To learn more, call 866-695-8346 today to schedule an appointment.