Why Do Some Women Get Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a number of changes happen to your body to support and make room for the growing baby. One thing that changes is that your body becomes generally more prone to developing varicose veins. Some women may be more likely to develop these veins than others, as the likelihood is based on a number of different factors. In general, approximately one third of women will develop varicose veins or spider veins during their pregnancy. In most cases these are not something to worry about, and many varicose veins will get better when the pregnancy ends.

What is a Varicose Vein and Why Do They Occur?

A varicose vein is a part of the vein that is leaking blood into the tissue surrounding the vein. Inside the vein there are small valves that help to circulate the blood back towards the heart from the lower extremities. When the blood circulation is poor, or there is a lot of pressure put on the vein for some reason, these valves don’t work as efficiently. This stops the blood from flowing back towards the heart, and it can pool inside the vein and begin to leak out into the surrounding tissue.

The main symptoms of a varicose vein that you will notice first are that the area may be painful and swollen, and you will be able to see the vein through the skin. You may also feel pressure in the area, or see a red rash around the swollen vein.

During pregnancy there are a number of factors that contribute to these veins being more likely to appear. First, the blood flow in your body more than doubles during pregnancy, so that the uterus and placenta can be provided with nutrients for the growing baby. This extra blood flow puts additional pressure on the valves inside the veins, and can make them more likely to stop working properly.

In addition, as the uterus and baby continue to grow bigger inside the pelvis, this can put pressure against the veins that go through the pelvis. This means that the valves inside the veins need to work harder to pump the blood against this extra pressure.

For some women they may be more likely to develop these veins simply due to family history and genetic factors, while others may have more environmental factors that make the varicose veins more likely. For example, if you are standing up a lot due to your job, you will be more likely to develop these veins than other pregnant women who are not standing up so much.

How Can These Veins Be Treated?

Varicose vein treatment continues to develop every year, and there are now numerous treatments available. So much so, that the array of treatment options can be almost too much. First, always take preventative measures to stop any existing varicose veins from getting worse, and to prevent any more varicose veins from developing. To do this, make sure that you get regular exercise, and keep your weight gain during pregnancy within recommended guidelines.

Next, elevate your legs when possible, especially if you spend a lot of your day standing up. Using gravity to help the blood flow back towards your heart allows the veins to work a little more easily, and they are less likely to fail under the continual pressure.

If you already have varicose veins, these preventative measures can stop the problem from getting worse. In addition, you may need to seek treatment to deal with any varicose veins that are causing you pain or are not getting better.

A number of different treatment options are available for most people. There are also a number of minimally-invasive procedures that you can opt for. Treatment options fall into two main categories, heat-based techniques and non-heat-based techniques. All approaches seal the leaky vein, which stops blood from pooling in the area and leaking out into the surrounding tissue.

Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) and Radiofrequency Ablation (VNUS Closure) are the two main, and most long-standing treatment options. These approaches are both very effective, and use heat to seal the vein. The benefit of these techniques is their high success rate, though they are more invasive than some other procedures. Foam Sclerotherapy, Clarivein and glue treatments are all also available, and are much less invasive. The issue that they have is that they are not as effective, and do often result in more side effects.

Varicose veins are a common occurrence during pregnancy, and in many cases can be resolved quickly with minimal treatment. Make sure that you take preventative measures to stop these veins from developing, and seek treatment from your doctor if you are suffering from pain or if the varicose vein appears to be getting worse.

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