6 Tips for Preventing Varicose Veins during Pregnancy

A pregnant woman wearing a pink shirt with her hands on her belly.

The changes your body makes to accommodate your growing baby are beautiful, but sometimes pregnancy can leave some unsightly remnants behind. You may have noticed that you have started to develop varicose veins. Or, perhaps, you want to take a proactive approach to reduce the chances of developing varicose veins during pregnancy. We have answered your top six questions regarding varicose veins, including proactive ways to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy:

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged cord-like veins that appear blue or dark purple in color, most frequently seen on the legs and feet. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the legs become damaged from increased pressure caused by walking and gravity. When the valves in the legs become damaged, they are unable to close properly allowing regurgitation, or the backflow of blood, which stretches the veins causing those unsightly bulges known as varicose veins.

What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

    • Painless appearance of veins that look like “worms”
    • Legs that ache or feel heavy
    • Increased pain after standing or sitting for long periods of time
    • Itching over the vein
  • Swelling of the legs

Who Is Most at Risk for Varicose Veins?

    • Women. Women are more likely to develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes, causing the vein wall to relax, which occurs during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
    • Family history. Varicose veins are familial, so look to your mother and grandmother. If family members have varicose veins, there is a greater chance that you will develop them as well.
    • Pregnancy. Women who are pregnant are at a greater risk for developing varicose veins because of the additional pressure the growing uterus and increase in blood volume places on the veins in your legs. The influx in hormones also plays a role.
  • Profession. If your profession has you sitting or standing for long periods of time you are at a greater risk. Sitting in the same position or standing for more than two hours at a time adds additional stress on the veins in your legs causing varicose veins.

How Do You Prevent Varicose Veins?

    • Wear elastic support stockings. These compression stockings provide constant pressure to help promote blood return and reduce the likelihood of varicose veins and swelling, a common complaint during pregnancy.
    • Exercise. Exercise increases blood circulation, which is good for your heart and veins. Light exercise, like walking, increases calf muscle contraction allowing more blood to return to the heart. For even better results, exercise while wearing your compression stockings. Always contact your OB before exercising during pregnancy.
    • Elevate your legs. When you are resting, elevate your legs above the level of your heart for at least 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Elevation promotes increased blood return to the heart and reduces swelling in the legs.
    • Limit salt intake. A diet high in sodium leads to water retention, causing swelling in the legs. The increase in blood volume creates additional pressure on the veins in the legs causing the valves to weaken.
    • Don’t sit or stand for long periods of time. Try not to stand or sit in the same position for more than two hours at a time. Make sure to rest or move around to promote effective blood circulation.
  • Avoid constipation. Constipation is a common complaint in pregnancy and straining from constipation causes the valves in the legs to become damaged and stretched from the increased pressure to move stool. Avoid constipation by eating a diet high in fiber and water or talk to your do

Related Read: New Moms: It’s Time to Baby Yourself

Do Varicose Veins Cause Future Problems?

Varicose veins do not cause physical complications in most cases, however, they can lead to ulcers, an open wound in the skin, blood clots, and bleeding at the site of the varicose vein. These complications all require immediate medical attention.    

What Are my Vein Treatment Options?

    • Elastic support stockings. Wearing compression stockings is a simple proactive approach to keep varicose veins at bay or from progressing. Wear support stockings daily, removing at night and elevating legs.
    • Sclerotherapy. A salt-like solution is directly injected into the vein, which causes the vein to collapse and adhere to the blood causing clotting. The vessel then turns into scar tissue and visibility diminishes.
    • Radio frequency ablation. A minimally invasive procedure that uses radio frequency to heat the vein. The vein then collapses and the blood vessel is sealed off.
    • Laser vein ablation. A minimally invasive procedure in which a small catheter is placed into the vein. The additional use of laser energy causes the closure of the varicose vein.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy. Tiny incisions are made in the skin and the varicose vein is removed. This procedure typically lasts 1-2 hours, requires no stitches, and patients are able to resume daily activities immediately.

Contact us online to learn more about your treatment options for varicose veins and how to look and feel your best. We look forward to hearing from you!