Varicose Veins that occur during pregnancy are uncomfortable and slightly painful, but are they dangerous? Discover just how dangerous they are and learn how you can prevent them from occurring.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Normal, healthy veins run unnoticed below the skin all throughout your body. If the veins are exposed to extreme pressure or become blocked, they can start to grow and swell. The swelling pushes the veins against the surface of the skin which causes unsightly purplish lumps to appear. When this happens, the veins are no longer healthy and are instead classified as varicose veins.
Are Varicose Veins Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Varicose veins may be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but they are usually not dangerous. If you develop them during pregnancy, you may experience slight pain, some discomfort, and itching, but most of the time serious problems do not occur. While varicose veins during pregnancy are not usually dangerous, there is a very small chance that other more serious problems can occur. Blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can happen in varicose veins.
Can I Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
There is no guaranteed way to prevent varicose veins from occurring during pregnancy. However, you can dramatically reduce your risk of experiencing them by making simple lifestyle changes. Some of the things you can do to reduce the risk of varicose veins during pregnancy include:
- Monitor your weight gain. In general, a woman gains between 15 and 40 lbs after becoming pregnant and most of the gain occurs in the 3rd trimester
- Try to sleep towards the left side – this reduces the pressure of the gravid uterus on the inferior vena cava, the main vein returning blood from the lower body to the heart
- Maintain a healthy diet – fee your cravings with fruits and vegetables and avoid high sodium foods
- Elevate your feet and legs with the goal of having your feet at or above the level of your heart
- Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Take a walk break every hour or pump your calf muscles with repeated foot flexing extensions
- Exercise daily – walking is the simplest and best form
- Wear support stockings, especially during the 3rd trimester when most of the swelling and weight gain occurs – this may be the most important recommendation
When Will Varicose Veins Go Away?
Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy might go away several months after you give birth. However, that doesn’t always happen. For some women, varicose veins don’t go away after pregnancy. When this happens, in-office treatments will reduce the pain and swelling of the veins. Vascular Surgeon Dr. Andrew Hearn will discuss with you the proper treatment that will reduce the pain and discomfort caused by varicose veins. Vein treatments can be performed as early as 6 weeks post-partum.
When Should You See A Doctor For Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
Even though most cases of varicose veins during pregnancy don’t cause any problems, there is still a slight risk that problems could occur. In order to prevent problems from occurring, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Hearn as soon as you notice varicose veins are starting to develop. Dr. Hearn will monitor your vein health during your pregnancy. Should other more serious problems, such as deep vein thrombosis occur, you will have a doctor who is able to provide prompt treatment.
If you are currently experiencing any symptoms of vein disease or have any questions, contact our office for an appointment. There are a variety of treatment options at The Vein Center of Cincinnati. During your initial consultation, Vascular Surgeon Dr. Andrew Hearn will take the time to help you understand the underlying cause of your discomfort, explain your treatment options, and then guide you through every step of your procedure and recovery. Call our office today at (513) 232-2400, you’ll be glad you did!