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Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Preventing varicose veins during pregnancy is something that floats across most moms-to-be’s minds at some point in time. The added blood volume, strain, and weight that is put on the body during pregnancy can really exacerbate varicose veins. To understand how these veins are caused and what can be done to prevent and treat them, you’ll need to understand what they are, first.

Varicose veins are common during pregnancy; most people find them to be unsightly, they are uncomfortable, and in rare cases can lead to blood clots. And while they might fade after pregnancy, they often linger. Fortunately, there are some precautions you can take early on in your pregnancy to help prevent and/or minimize your risk of developing varicose veins.

Avoid Inactivity – When you stand or sit for prolonged periods of time, without walking, the blood pools in the leg veins. Avoid inactivity, not everyone can take breaks, but if you can, walk around – hourly.

Exercise – Just like the heart pumps the arterial blood, the calf muscle pumps the vein’s blood back up the legs. This occurs when you walk. If the muscle atrophies from lack of use, the ability to pump the blood in the veins diminishes. This affects the ability of veins to move the blood out of the legs.

Leg Elevation – Elevate your legs periodically during the day.

Low Sodium – High salt diets cause people to retain more water. This water eventually is distributed to the body tissue, which are the most gravity-dependent areas. For people who sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, this area involves the feet and ankles.

Looser Clothing – The blood, in the leg veins, flows up the legs and into the veins of the pelvis. When you wear a tight waistband, this increases the pressure in the abdomen and pelvis. This increased pressure makes it more difficult for the blood in the veins to flow back up the legs, and can cause increased pressure in the leg veins.

Support Stockings – Graduated compression socks and stockings are specifically measured to fit your leg. When properly sized the stockings are tightest at the ankle and becomes less as you move up the leg. This promotes the flow of blood up the leg, and reduces ankle and foot swelling. The Ted stockings do not have this gradient and should not been used outside of the hospital environment.

Watch Your Weight – Significant abdominal weight gain can cause increased intra-abdominal pressure and can have the same effect on leg vein pressure, as a tight waistband.

High Fiber – Constipation can also cause increased intra-abdominal pressure and like other causes of increased abdominal pressure, cause increased resistance for the blood in the veins flowing up the legs.

Treatment Options

If you follow the above guidelines, you can greatly reduce the chances of getting varicose veins. However, if you do get them, don’t fret – there are treatment options! Contact a Board Certified Vascular Surgeon in your area for treatment of your varicose veins, spider veins, and more.

Michael Bardwil, M.D. at Texas Vein and Cosmetic Specialists is a Board Certified Vascular Surgeon with over 25 years of experience. For more information or questions about varicose veins, please contact his office today.

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Dr. Michael Bardwil
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