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Why Varicose Veins Appear During Pregnancy

Why Varicose Veins Appear During Pregnancy

After seeing a positive result on a pregnancy test, the next thing many women start noticing is the appearance of varicose veins.

In fact, around half of women will deal with enlargement of the superficial veins in their lower extremities during pregnancy. Although you don’t have to be pregnant to have varicose veins, pregnancy often causes them or makes existing ones worse.

Varicose veins often occur when your uterus puts pressure on the inferior vena cava, which is the large vein that takes blood back to your heart from the legs and feet. Varicose veins generally appear in the legs, rectum, and genital area, and sometimes they’re uncomfortable, itchy, or painful. 

Increased blood volume during pregnancy, as well as spikes in certain hormones also contribute to the development of varicose veins during pregnancy. Varicose veins may be hereditary, which means you probably can’t prevent them. However, they’re usually harmless.

What to do about your varicose veins

Even if varicose veins are a part of your pregnancy, you can avoid making them worse and reduce some of the discomfort that comes with them. A few helpful tips include: 

  • Avoid crossing your legs while sitting down. 
  • Take breaks and get up and move around if you’re sitting or standing in one place for too long.
  • Engage in low-impact exercise daily as long as your doctor approves it. 
  • Try wearing maternity support hose. They’re special pantyhose that offer compression for your leg muscles, which helps push blood back up towards your heart. They’re different from your regular pantyhose and apply gradual pressure to different areas of the leg to encourage blood flow.
  • Avoid wearing knee highs or tight socks that can squeeze one area of the legs and cut off your circulation. 
  • Try sleeping on your left side. This helps reduce the pressure on the inferior vena cava, which is located on your right side. 
  • Elevate your legs for a bit at the end of your day.
  • Limit time spent walking or standing.

Do varicose veins go away after birth? 

The good news is that varicose veins usually fade away after you give birth. In many cases, they often resolve completely. However, don’t expect them to be gone immediately after you have your baby. It often takes 8-12 weeks to disappear or fade. If you haven’t seen the improvement you want after about four months post-delivery, then you may want to consider visiting a vein specialist. 

This is when you need to start worrying

In most cases, you don’t need to worry about varicose veins during pregnancy. However, if they cause discomfort or pain, you may want to point them out to your physician. Rarely, if the veins aren’t returning blood to the heart adequately, skin breakdown can occur. It’s also possible for varicose veins to get inflamed, causing potential blood clots and severe pain. However, this scenario is uncommon. 

Most women who experience varicose veins during pregnancy end up with a beautiful new baby and veins that begin to go back to normal. Of course, if your varicose veins are still more prominent than you’d like, you may want to see a vein specialist. At Vein911, we have a board-certified team that specializes in cutting-edge procedures that use minimally-invasive technology to provide results. Learn more about our Tampa office and team today. Schedule an appointment and fill out a patient form today at Vein911 Vein Treatment Center and we’ll work with you to find the right solution for your needs.