Many women first develop varicose veins or find that they get worse during pregnancy. This is particularly true for women carrying twins or during subsequent pregnancies. You may have little, if any, discomfort from varicose veins, or they may make your legs feel heavy and achy. The skin around a varicose vein may also itch, throb, or feel like it’s burning. The symptoms tend to be worse at the end of the day, especially if you’ve been on your feet a lot.
Pregnancy increases the volume of blood in your body, but it also slows the blood flow from the legs to the pelvis. This change in circulation is designed to support the growing fetus and prepare the body for labor and delivery, however it can produce the unfortunate side effect of enlarged veins in your legs.
You may have also noticed tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin, especially on your ankles, legs, or face. These are called spider veins because they spread out like tiny tree branches and appear as a network of small red or blue veins.
The good news is that most varicose veins tend to improve after you give birth, especially if you didn’t have any before you got pregnant. However for patients with no improvement or pre-existing vein disease, family history, and multiple pregnancies–there are safe and effective treatments that are available.
What can I do to prevent varicose veins?
You may be able to prevent, or at least minimize, varicose veins while you’re pregnant if you:
- Exercise daily—the key is to allow the blood in your body to circulate. Don’t stand or sit too long in the same position.
- Stay within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.
- Elevate your feet and legs to the level of your heart or higher whenever possible.
- Avoid crossing your legs or ankles when sitting. This tends to further slow down the circulation of blood.
An additional and helpful habit is to wear compression stockings during the day. When you wear compression stockings your veins are supported and enable the blood to flow more effectively. The external pressure improves blood flow by compressing refluxing veins and redistributing flow to the healthier parts of your venous system. In doing so, it can help to keep swelling down and reduce the achiness in your legs.
Are varicose veins in pregnancy serious?
Varicose veins may itch or hurt, and they can be cosmetically displeasing, but they’re generally harmless during the pregnancy. It is generally not advisable to receive treatment for varicose veins during pregnancy that involves any incisions or injections; however, notify your OB/GYN or vein specialist for early evaluation. The diagnosis is simple and harmless utilizing ultrasound technology. The same technology used to evaluate the health of your baby during the pregnancy. Treatment, if needed, can usually be postponed until after you have your baby. Early diagnosis during pregnancy can help to prevent progression of spider and varicose veins through the use of compression stockings, elevation, and diet modification.
What are my options after pregnancy?
Varicose veins often improve within a few months after giving birth, though sometimes it takes even longer .
If your varicose veins persist, become too uncomfortable, or you’re just unhappy with how they look, our vein specialists can help you navigate your treatment options. Early diagnosis and treatment can also prevent progression small spider or varicose veins into largers ones. At Princeton Vascular wespecialize in the latest advancements with radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy (including Varithena), and Venaseal. These are virtually painless, same day treatments, delivered by our double board certified, fellowship trained specialists who are considered amongst the top in their field.
This article was contributed by Dr. Alissa Brotman-O’Neill. She was recently featured on the Dr.Who Show discussing pregnancy and varicose veins. Dr. Brotman is recognized as one of the top varicose vein doctors in New Jersey. She specializes in varicose vein and spider vein removal. Dr. Brotman uses the latest innovations in vein management including radiofrequency ablation (VNUS), endovenous laser therapy (EVLT), and also VenaSeal for management of vein disease. If you are looking for a vein treatment center in New Jersey, contact us for details on how you can see Dr. Alissa Brotman-O’Neill in NJ.