Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Varicose veins are veins that become abnormally large and deformed often due to an increase in pressure. While varicose veins can occur on anyone, women are at an increased risk during pregnancy, especially in regards to the veins in the lower extremities.

Signs

While not always painful, varicose veins are unsightly, and in certain cases may be dangerous. These veins are noticeable by their proximity to the skin, along with their dark blue or purple color. The veins may look like twisted chords running down the skin. In some cases, varicose veins cause symptoms such as aching, throbbing, burning, itching or cramping, which worsens after staying in a sitting or standing position for an extended period of time. Women often develop these veins in the legs during pregnancy, but it is also not uncommon for varicose veins to develop in the vulva or rectal area (more commonly referred to as hemorrhoids).

During Pregnancy

Varicose veins develop more frequently during pregnancy for several reasons. For example, as the fetus continues to develop and the uterus grows, the uterus begins to place pressure on a large vein called the inferior vena cava. This causes greater pressure to develop on the veins in the legs, resulting in varicose veins. These veins can also develop due to the additional blood volume needed during pregnancy. As blood volume increases, so does pressure on the walls of the veins. This pressure, mixed with the increase in progesterone that relaxes the blood vessels, along with the natural effects of gravity, creates the perfect atmosphere for blood to pool and cause varicose vein formation.

Treatment and Prevention

In many situations, varicose veins that develop during pregnancy often begin to repair after birth when the increased pressure dissipates. However, in many cases treatment for varicose veins is necessary. Treatment options include sclerotherapy, vein stripping and phlebectomy in Canton.

Here are a few tips to help prevent varicose veins from developing during a pregnancy:

  • Exercising often to improve circulation in your legs
  • Elevate your legs during periods where you are going to be sedentary. This can help reduce the effects of gravity on the veins
  • Maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, excess weight can cause added pressure to the veins
  • Wear compression stockings to help the muscles move blood more easily and efficiently through your legs.

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