Many of my patients are women who developed varicose veins for the first time during pregnancy. This is very common during pregnancy – as the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the lower part of the body, which in turn increases pressure in the leg veins. The amount of blood in the body increases when pregnant, adding to the burden on a woman’s veins overall. Likewise the increased female hormones also plays a role. It’s important to address these veins as there are many health problems that can develop from them, such as: irritation, swelling, painful rashes, skin ulcers, blood clots and severe infection. Though varicose veins can sometimes be genetic, there are simple steps women can take towards reducing the chances of these veins forming during her pregnancy.
Tip For Preventing Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
1. Move Around: Sitting or standing for long periods of time can decrease circulation, which contributes to the formation of varicose veins. Make the effort to walk around throughout the day, and keep blood flowing.
2. Get Regular Exercise: Any type of exercise that strengthens the “second heart” – the muscles of the calf and foot – is beneficial. Ask your doctor about the recommended amount of exercise for your trimester of pregnancy. Suggested activities, include: walking, running, swimming and bicycling.
3. Elevate Your Feet: Pregnancy is tiring to begin with, and elevating your feet will rest tired legs and help prevent pressure on weak veins. Raise your feet 6 to 12 inches above your heart whenever possible to assist circulation and also at night.
4. Wear Graduated Compression Stockings: Compression stockings act like an added layer of muscle, aiding the performance of the “second heart” and venous circulation. They are tight at the ankle, and looser as they go up, which helps prevent swelling and vein formation. These can be purchased at medical supply stores.
Following these steps do not necessarily guarantee vein free legs, but they definitely lower the chances of them forming. If they can’t be prevented, there are quick and easy treatments available for after pregnancy. 6 months after delivery most of the veins will return to normal size. Any remaining veins should have treatment. I would suggest sclerotherapy – a painless injection treatment that collapses the vein, which reabsorbed back into the blood stream.
Guest post written by Dr. Luis Navarro, Director of The Vein Treatment Center in New York, NY. For more information on vein tips and treatments, visit www.VeinTreatmentCenter.com