4 Things Pregnant Women Need To Know About Varicose Veins

Posted on: 1 April 2016

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins in the legs. These veins are often associated with seniors, but young people can get them, too. Pregnancy is a risk factor for varicose veins, so pregnant women need to stay alert for varicose veins. Here are four things pregnant women need to know about varicose veins.

What are the signs of varicose veins?

If you develop varicose veins during your pregnancy, you'll see large veins underneath your skin. These veins may look swollen or twisted, and the overlying skin may be discolored. In addition to these visible symptoms, your legs may feel painful or cramped, and your ankles and feet may feel swollen.

How does pregnancy cause varicose veins?

Pregnancy can contribute to the development of varicose veins in a few different ways. As your uterus grows, it puts pressure on the nearby veins. In some cases, this extra pressure can make the veins bulge outwards and become varicose.

Hormonal changes can also play a role. During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to support your baby's growth. While this extra blood is good for your baby, it puts more stress on your veins and can make them bulge outwards. Since your pregnancy hormones relax the walls of your blood vessels, it's easy for this stress to make the veins bulge.

Other factors, outside of your pregnancy, can also contribute to varicose vein formation. Genetics plays a role, so if your mother had varicose veins when she was pregnant with you, your risk of getting them yourself may be higher. Body weight is also a factor, so if you were overweight before you got pregnant, you may be more likely to get varicose veins.

Are varicose veins serious?

Varicose veins may be a cosmetic problem or a minor nuisance, but they can also lead to serious complications. You may develop an itchy rash on the skin overlying the varicose veins; this rash is known as dermatitis. If you scratch this rash a lot, you could break the skin and cause bleeding. Skin ulcers may form as a result.

Blood clots can also form within the varicose veins. Clots that form in veins that are right beneath the skin are called superficial thrombophlebitis and they can be painful. These clots may lead to deeper clots within the veins, known as deep vein thrombosis, which can break off and lead to problems like heart attacks or strokes.

Can varicose veins be treated?

During your pregnancy, you can wear support pantyhose or knee socks to help control your varicose vein symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe compression stockings if your symptoms are more serious. These stockings work by improving your circulation.

Most of the time, pregnant women find that the appearance of their varicose veins get significantly better after their babies are born. For this reason, your doctor will recommend waiting until after your baby is born to start more invasive treatments.

If your varicose veins don't go away by themselves once your baby arrives, your doctor may perform chemical sclerosis. This procedure involves injecting a substance into the affected vein that will destroy the vein and make it become a fibrotic cord. Over time, your body will re-absorb the vein.

Laser therapy can also be used to destroy varicose veins. This procedure is similar to chemical sclerosis in that it turns the vein into scar tissue that your body can absorb. Your doctor will insert a catheter into the affected vein, and then guide a laser fiber through the catheter. The vein will be compressed on both sides of the laser fiber, then the laser will be fired. The heat from the laser will destroy the varicose vein. For more information on laser varicose vein treatment, contact a company like Premier Surgical Associates.