Varicose Veins: Preparing for Pregnancy Changes

 Varicose Veins: Preparing for Pregnancy Changes

Pregnancy is such an exciting time for expectant families. While the joy of bringing a baby into the world can far exceed the annoyances of physical pain or hormonal changes women experience, it is often unsettling to see all the changes happening in and outside the body. Along with many other changes, one common change is the appearance of varicose veins.

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins, most commonly affecting the legs. The cause of varicose veins is often damaged valves which cause blood to flow backward or pool in the vein, ultimately stretching or twisting them. While any vein can become varicose, standing and walking increase the pressure in your veins, especially in your lower body.

Milder versions of varicose veins are referred to as spider veins. For some people, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern, but for others they can cause aching pain and extreme discomfort. Once varicose veins begin causing discomfort or more serious problems, it is time to reach out to a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute for a solution.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

During pregnancy, hormones and the volume of blood in your body both increase. This can easily cause varicose veins. Additionally, age, sex, weight, and family history all play similar roles in the development of leg veins. Common symptoms of varicose veins during pregnancy may include an achy or heavy feeling in your legs; burning, throbbing or swelling in the lower legs; itching around the veins and/or worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time. Those with varicose veins are also at risk for blood clots, bleeding, and ulcers.

Treatment of Varicose Veins

Treatment of leg veins can include both self-care and medical attention.

Self-care options include exercise, elevating the legs, or wearing compression stockings. Wearing compression stockings should be the first approach when trying to treat varicose veins. These stockings apply pressure to your legs to help the veins and leg muscles move blood around more efficiently. Varicose veins developed during pregnancy often improve without medical treatment 3-12 months after delivery.

If varicose veins do not improve, there are a variety of medical procedures that can be performed by a dermatologist. These include sclerotherapy, laser treatments, and catheter-assisted procedures. Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which the doctor injects leg veins with a solution or foam that scars and closes the veins. Within a few weeks the injected veins should fade. Laser treatments help to close off smaller varicose veins by applying strong bursts of light to the vein, making the vein eventually fade and disappear. Catheter-assisted procedures using laser energy involve doctors inserting a catheter into an enlarged vein and heating the tip of the catheter using laser energy. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat destroys the vein, causing it to collapse and seal. Vein stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy, and endoscopic vein surgery are additional treatment options as well.

If you live in or around Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas and want to get your varicose veins diagnosed and treated, fill out this form to get in touch with the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute.

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