Pregnancy and Varicose Veins
No need to suffer from vein disease during pregnancy!
With pregnancy and its related hormone fluctuation – the leading cause of vein disease in females – many women will initially develop their varicose veins during pregnancy, or find that existing ones only get worse.
Veins are the blood vessels that return blood from the extremities to the heart, so the blood in leg veins is already working against gravity. During pregnancy, additional factors take effect. The growing uterus puts pressure on the central vein on the right side of the body (the inferior vena cava), which in turn increases pressure in the leg veins. During pregnancy the amount or volume of blood in the body increases, further adding to the burden on the veins. In addition, hormone levels vary tremendously, such as rising progesterone levels, which cause the vein walls to relax.
In order to slow or prevent the progression of varicose veins during pregnancy:
- Exercise daily to maintain good circulation
- Strive to keep within the recommended weight range
- Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible
- Don’t sit or stand for long periods without breaks
- Wear medical-grade graduated compression stockings throughout the duration of your pregnancy. These stockings are available from vein clinics and medical supply stores. They have the highest level of compression at the ankle, which then slowly decreases in strength as they go up the leg, making it easier for blood to flow back up toward the heart. This leads to less venous pooling, and decreases the venous pressure in the limbs.
In the event that you are pregnant and suffering from painful varicose veins in your legs, or even in your labia (very painful and very common during pregnancy), some relief can be provided by undergoing a series of simple injection treatments, which are not harmful to the pregnancy. The optimal scenario would then be to complete the definitive treatment protocol via Laser Closure/Ablation approximately four to six weeks post-delivery. However, if you are extremely symptomatic or developing complications, laser treatment can be performed even during pregnancy – since it’s performed under local anesthesia, it is considered very safe. The bottom line is that there is no reason for any pregnant women to suffer with varicose veins throughout her entire pregnancy.
Vein disease should be treated sooner rather than later because once a vein becomes varicose, it will not return to normal. Therefore, it’s important for females suffering from vein disease to seek a timely evaluation, and not wait until complications develop, or even until after they are finished bearing children. Their vein disease will only progress and worsen, causing even more pain during subsequent pregnancies. After laser treatment, there is only minimal risk for recurrence with additional pregnancies, so there is no compelling reason a patient should delay treatment.