Varicose veins are enlarged and often painful veins that generally appear on the legs and feet. There are a number of different causes of varicose veins, from genetics to poor lifestyle, but one which is quite common is vein damage during pregnancy. If varicose veins can seemingly appear out of nowhere, is it possible that varicose veins go away after pregnancy? Let’s find out.
Why do varicose veins develop during pregnancy?
While varicose veins can develop due to several factors during pregnancy, they usually result from an increase in the volume of blood being channelled through a pregnant woman’s body to cater to her and the growing foetus. The increased blood flow places additional stress on the blood vessels, causing them to bulge and produce veins which are visible on the skin.
The main factors that contribute to the development of varicose veins during pregnancy include:
- An increased volume of blood in circulation
- The natural weight gain associated with pregnancy
- An additional pressure the growing uterus exerts on veins in the pelvis
- The relaxing effect progesterone has on blood vessels
An increased volume of blood in circulation
During pregnancy, there is an increase in the volume of blood being channelled through a woman’s body. While the volume change is a normal physiological response designed to cater to her and the growing foetus, it also places additional stress on her blood vessels causing them to bulge and produce varicose veins that are visible on the skin.
Weight gain associated with pregnancy
It is normal for pregnant women to experience some weight gain due to the increasing size of her uterus, the growing foetus, and a higher volume of blood flowing through her body. However, pregnancy can also cause intense cravings for certain foods which if uncontrolled, can cause weight gain to occur too rapidly. There is a direct link between undesirable weight gain and the development of varicose veins as it places more pressure on the veins causing them to deform.
Additional pressure exerted by an enlarged uterus
As the foetus develops in the mother throughout pregnancy, the uterus will usually expand to accommodate its increasing size. Consequently, the larger uterus will push against blood vessels and organs within the abdomen, constricting them and preventing blood from easily leaving the veins of the legs. The accumulation of a higher than usual volume of blood within these vessels causes them to bulge and form varicose veins.
The relaxing effects of progesterone on blood vessels
Progesterone is a hormone secreted during pregnancy that helps to sustain the development of the foetus. However, in addition to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, progesterone can also have an effect on blood vessels which causes them to relax. As a result, blood flow within the vessels tends to be slower, resulting in a higher volume build-up within the veins, their enlargement, and finally, the development of outwardly visible varicosities.
Can I do anything about varicose veins while I’m pregnant?
With a few lifestyle modifications and exercise routines, you can significantly reduce the effects of varicose veins while pregnant. Some effective ways of managing varicose veins during pregnancy include:
- Regular daily exercises such as taking walks
- Vein support with thigh-high compression stockings
- Wearing flat footwear and avoiding high-heeled shoes
- Elevating your feet for at least a few hours daily
- Monitoring weight gain during pregnancy
- Limiting dietary salt intake
- Sleeping on your left side to reduce pressure
To learn more about symptoms and treatment: Varicose Veins in Pregnancy: tips for prevention and treatment.
Will varicose veins go away eventually?
In a majority of women, varicose veins developed during pregnancy will start to recede and completely disappear within three months. However, in some cases, the varicose veins might persist, and in these cases, it is ideal to consult a vascular specialist who will assess the veins and offer suitable treatment options.
Seek expert advice
The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;
- Walk-in walk-out treatment
- 98% success rate
- Extremely effective
- Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
- No general anaesthetic
- Medicare rebates apply
- No downtime or time away from work
To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.