Though pregnancy is a joyous time for many mothers-to-be, it can also be a time during which they endure a great deal of physical discomfort. Pregnant women experience a litany of physical sensations that are anything but pleasant, including nausea and morning sickness in early pregnancy and swelling which is common in the third trimester. While many women chalk it up as the price of pregnancy and bringing another life into the world, those conditions can still be tough to live with during the nine-month term.
Another unpleasant aspect of pregnancy experienced by some women is the development of varicose veins. Varicose veins are the blue, spidery veins that sometimes emerge on the legs. While varicose veins are largely harmless to both mother and baby, they can be itchy, uncomfortable, and unsightly. Fortunately, in some cases, varicose veins can be treated through noninvasive techniques to minimize their impact. Some pregnant women seek treatment at their dermatology clinic in Sand Diego, CA, to get relief and reduce the appearance of varicose veins, though most are advised to take natural steps to relieve varicose vein symptoms. Keep reading to learn all you should know about varicose veins and their treatment during pregnancy.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Simply put, varicose veins are large, twisted, knotty blue or purple veins that can be visible from the surface of the skin, usually in the legs and feet. Veins have built-in one-way valves, and when they malfunction, it can cause blood to seep back the wrong way or pool in places. That leads to the formation of varicose veins. The symptoms of varicose veins include aching legs, superficial itching or discomfort, swollen ankles and feet, and visible veins.
Why Do Pregnant Women Get Them?
Pregnant women are prone to varicose veins because of their physiology during pregnancy. The volume of blood in the body increases overall, but the rate of blood flow from the legs to the pelvis decreases. That creates additional pressure on the veins in the lower extremities, which can lead to varicose veins. Also, increased progestin levels commonly experienced during pregnancy can cause dilation of the veins. Finally, during pregnancy, the uterus puts pressure on the interior vena cava, which is a vein that transports blood from the legs to the heart. That further compounds the factors that lead to varicose veins.
For mild cases of varicose veins during pregnancy, there are a few things expectant mothers can do to minimize them. First, avoid sitting still for long periods and be sure to increase physical activity throughout the pregnancy. Avoid wearing high-heel shoes that put additional stress on the legs. Opt instead for flats, low heels, or sneakers if possible. You can perform exercises that involve the raising of the legs periodically to improve blood flow and prevent pooling and wearing support hose or socks will have a similar effect. Avoid crossing your legs when sitting and try sleeping on your left side to help relieve pressure on the inferior vena cava. Finally, reduce salt intake, which can influence swelling.
While there are many conventional dermatological treatments available to deal with varicose veins on the general population, most elective procedures are discouraged during pregnancy because of increased risk of complications. Most OB/GYNs and dermatologists advise pregnant women to simply attempt a few of the noninvasive methods for reducing varicose veins and understand that the veins usually fade away within 12 weeks of the birth of the child. It’s still a good idea to point them out to your doctor, but aggressive dermatological treatment usually isn’t necessary or encouraged during pregnancy.
While the sudden appearance of varicose veins during pregnancy can be startling to some expectant mothers, their presence certainly isn’t abnormal. To learn more about what you should know about treating varicose veins during pregnancy, contact Academic and Aesthetic Dermatology Consultants at (858) 292-7525.