What Causes Varicose Veins During Pregnancy? And Other FAQs
What causes varicose veins during pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant, especially if you’re in your second or third trimester, you might have noticed dense blood vessels bulging out of your skin’s surface. They might appear on your legs and thighs and look like dense tree branches. These are varicose veins, and they’re extremely common during pregnancy. But why do you get varicose veins during pregnancy, what do they indicate, can they be removed, and do they go away naturally after pregnancy?
We answer your questions about spider veins and varicose veins during pregnancy.
Our medical centers for vein treatment in California specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of spider veins, varicose veins, and numerous other vein conditions in men and women. We have vein doctors specializing in varicose veins during pregnancy, and they can offer the ideal treatments for your condition. Varicose veins aren’t always dangerous, but they can be indicative of underlying vein disease, so we encourage you to visit vein doctors for diagnosis.
You may schedule an appointment at our medical centers for vein treatment in California today.
Varicose veins are damaged blood vessels with excess blood
Before we discuss why varicose veins are common during pregnancy, let’s start with a brief description. Varicose veins are dense blood vessels that bulge out of the skin’s surface, often looking like a mass of dense, tangled, twisted, and knotted ropes or tree trunks. They bulge out of the skin’s surface, usually on the lower extremities of the body, such as the legs, calves, thighs, and hips. Varicose veins are essentially damaged blood vessels with excessive blood accumulation, which makes the vein walls dilate and bulge outwards.
Chronic venous insufficiency is the root cause of varicose veins
Chronic venous insufficiency is the primary root cause of varicose veins. This is a medical condition triggered by the collapse of unhealthy vein valves. In healthy veins, the valves act as one-way doors to ensure smooth blood circulation to the heart, often against the force of gravity. When your vein valves collapse, blood flows backward and accumulates in the leg veins, eventually leading to vascular dilation and the outwards protrusion of varicose veins.
Pregnancy increases the risk of venous insufficiency
Pregnancy increases the risk of vein disease and varicose veins for several reasons. When you’re pregnant, your body undergoes several physiological changes that weaken the vein valves, increasing the risk of varicose veins, such as an increased volume of blood in the body, increased estrogen and progesterone hormones, and the weight of the uterus. Most women develop varicose veins in the second trimester, and the symptoms continue worsening in the final trimester.
The uterus applies pressure on the saphenous vein that runs from the leg to the heart, leading to an increased risk of vein disease. The estrogen and progesterone hormones weaken the vein valves, so they’re more likely to become floppy and stop preventing backward blood circulation. Furthermore, increased blood volume in the body places more pressure on the leg veins, increasing the risk of chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins.
How can I prevent varicose veins during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a risk factor (not a cause) for varicose veins. And it’s not the only risk factor for varicose veins. You also have a higher risk of varicose veins if you’re older than 50 years of age, female, undergoing hormone therapy, or have a medical history of vein problems. Since varicose veins can happen for a diverse set of risk factors, there are no definitive means of avoiding varicose veins during pregnancy.
However, the following home remedies can prevent varicose veins from worsening:
- Wear compression stockings regularly to prevent blood accumulation in leg veins.
- Engage in cardiovascular exercises to push the accumulated blood in your legs to your heart. The best exercises for varicose veins are running, swimming, cycling, and yoga.
- Elevate your legs while sitting down to push the accumulated blood towards your heart.
- Don’t sit or stand still for long periods of time.
At what stage of pregnancy do you get varicose veins?
Most women develop varicose veins during the second trimester, but the symptoms continue worsening throughout the remainder of the pregnancy because of increased pressure on leg veins. The varicose veins will be at their worst during the third trimester.
Do pregnancy varicose veins go away?
Some of the varicose veins might dissipate or fade after pregnancy, but most of the varicose veins remain. You may also develop new varicose veins because of underlying chronic venous insufficiency. The best way to remove varicose veins after pregnancy is through minimally invasive procedures that close the diseased saphenous vein responsible for your vein problems, thus rerouting the accumulated blood into healthier leg veins to restore optimal blood flow.
When should I be worried about varicose veins in pregnancy?
You should be worried about varicose veins if you notice any of the other signs and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, the root cause of most vein problems. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of vein disease include leg swelling, leg pain, leg heaviness, restless leg syndrome, spider veins, and varicose veins, especially at night or after long periods of sitting or standing. Some of the advanced vein disease symptoms include skin discoloration, leg ulcers, and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in leg veins). If you notice the signs and symptoms of vein disease, you should contact your vein doctors in California immediately.
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