Oh Baby – Those Are Varicose Veins!
What You Can Do About Varicose Veins During and After Pregnancy.
It’s not unusual for a new mom-to-be to find that they have developed varicose veins during pregnancy. The added weight and blood flow makes pregnant women more prone to veins that leak or fail.
Varicose veins are swollen veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin. These blue or purple, sometimes squiggly-looking veins are most likely to show up in your legs, though you may also get them elsewhere. (In fact, hemorrhoids are really just varicose veins of the rectal area.) Many women first develop varicose veins – or find that they get worse – during pregnancy. As the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of the body (the inferior vena cava), which in turn increases pressure in the leg veins.
There may be little or no discomfort from them, 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. Veins are the blood vessels that return blood from your extremities to your heart, so the blood in your leg veins is already working against gravity. When you’re pregnant, the amount of blood in your body increases, adding to the burden on your veins. And your progesterone levels rise, causing the walls of your blood vessels to relax.
You’re more likely to get varicose veins if other members of your family have had them. They’re more common in women than men, and if you have them, they tend to get worse with each successive pregnancy and as you get older. Being overweight, carrying twins or higher multiples, and standing for long periods can also make you more susceptible.
During and after pregnancy, you may 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 often appear in a spider- or sunburst-like pattern with little branches radiating out from the center (though sometimes they may look more like the branches of a tree or separate thin lines with no particular pattern). These don’t cause discomfort, and they typically disappear after delivery.
The good news is that varicose veins tend to improve after you give birth, particularly if you didn’t have any before you got pregnant. And if they don’t get better, there are a variety of ways to treat them.
Things To Do To Minimize the Effects of Varicose Veins:
1. Exercise daily. Even just a brisk walk around the block can help your circulation.
2. Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible. Use a stool or box to rest your legs on when you’re sitting, and keep your feet elevated on a pillow when you’re lying down.
3. Don’t cross your legs or ankles when sitting.
4. Don’t sit or stand for long periods without taking breaks to move around.
5. Wear special support hose. Graduated-compression stockings, which are twice as thick as normal pantyhose, work best. These stockings are available from medical supply stores and pharmacies. They’re tight at the ankle and get looser as they go up the leg, making it easier for blood to flow back up toward your heart. As a result, they help prevent swelling and may keep your varicose veins from getting worse.
How Varicose Veins Are Treated:
Varicose Vein Laser procedures use an FDA approved laser tip to insert a laser fiber directly inside the faulty vein under local anesthesia. The laser delivers a precise dose of energy into the vein wall, collapsing it. This process, called ablation, cures the condition and diverts blood flow to nearby functional veins. The resulting increased circulation significantly reduces the symptoms of varicose veins and improves their surface appearance. It’s quick, easy, requires no general anesthesia and gets you back on your feet in a matter of minutes. Best of all, it’s approved by most insurance carriers.
If you notice varicose veins during or after your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor so that you know exactly what to expect as things in your body change. Preparing ahead of time for any post pregnancy conditions or procedures will help minimize the stress you feel and allow you to focus on all the wonderful events surrounding the birth of your child.
Dr. Pedulla is Oklahoma’s most experienced Varicose Vein Laser Specialist and he offers to help patients make the best choices for vein treatment. Call his office at (405) 947-2228.