What Causes Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
Women are four times more likely to develop varicose veins than men, and much of this increased incidence has to do with the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Naturally, pregnancy sends hormone levels soaring, further increasing the risk of developing varicose veins.
Both hormones cause general relaxation of the small muscle cells, which predisposes a patient to varicose veins. Once the inner leg veins become unable to resist forces of gravity, bulging, aching leg veins ensue. Note that there are some misconceptions around the primary cause of varicose veins during pregnancy, including the idea that the large pregnant uterus puts pressure on the abdominal veins later in pregnancy, leading to the varicose veins. After all, many varicose veins in the leg appear during the first and second trimesters, before the uterus has attained its large size.
During pregnancy, use of medical grade support hose is very beneficial in preventing or minimizing varicose veins, as is continued exercise (as advised by your obstetrician) and limiting pregnancy weight gain if possible. Treatment for this condition is best done with VNUS Closure (now known as Venefit), and this is occasionally followed by micro-phlebectomy or sclerotherapy.
Questions pertaining to varicose veins can always be addressed to our staff at any of our four Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia offices. Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. McNeill often teach about venous disease nationally, and are happy to answer your questions.