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Pregnancy and varicose veins

Q: I got varicose veins from pregnancy. We’re planning for another child, should I get my veins treated now or wait?

A: Pregnancy is one of the biggest risks for varicose veins. At any time during the pregnancy new veins can form or existing veins can get bigger, more numerous, or painful. Each additional pregnancy increases the risk for getting varicose veins. The primary reasons for this are fluid retention which distends the veins, increased levels of hormones which relax vein walls, and downstream pressure from the growing uterus if it is positioned on larger veins in the abdomen. The good news is that varicose veins often improve after birth although it can take months for the veins to recover. Sometimes there is complete resolution but more commonly some varicose veins remain.

Preventative measures help minimize varicose vein problems during pregnancy. Regular exercise or aerobic activities encourage good blood flow in the legs. Periodic leg elevation, 10-15 minutes a few times a day, can help keep leg swelling under control. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight and wearing properly fitted compression stockings also helps support the veins by minimizing the stress and stretching of the venous system.

Treatment of varicose veins is deferred until roughly 6 months after delivery to allow the veins to fully recover from the effects of pregnancy. If planning for additional children vein treatment can be done between pregnancies. In fact, this may make subsequent pregnancies more comfortable by minimizing symptoms and other problems that can occur from varicose veins.

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