You thought you could avoid them, the dreaded varicose veins! But if you’re going to have a baby, you have a 40% chance of developing spider and varicose veins in pregnancy.
They could show up anytime, as early as your first trimester or right up to your last week. And once they appear, they’re likely to become more pronounced as your pregnancy progresses. The good news is that once your beautiful baby has arrived, the damaged veins should begin to disappear. And as your baby grows, they should keep shrinking until they’re completely gone.
Why Do Pregnant Women Get Varicose Veins in Pregnancy?
It’s natural that women would develop spider and varicose veins in pregnancy because of what causes them.
Both these types of damaged veins are caused when blood begins to pool in the veins rather than move back towards the heart. This causes increased blood pressure in the veins, which then causes the veins to get bigger and even bulge up under the skin’s surface.
The three main reasons that women can get both varicose and spider veins in pregnancy are:
- Weight gain (even the good kind)
- Increase in blood volume
More weight equals more pressure
During your pregnancy, you’re carrying extra body weight – both your own and your baby’s. This extra weight makes it harder for your valves to push the blood back up your legs towards your heart. When that happens, the blood can start to pool up in the veins causing purple, blue, or red ropy varicose veins to pop up.
Your uterus is also exerting pressure on your pelvic blood vessels, inhibiting the blood flow to the heart.
More blood equals more pressure
During pregnancy, your total blood volume also increases by 20% to 100%. The sheer volume of blood adds extra pressure on your blood vessels, making it even more difficult for your body to push all that extra blood back to your heart.
Relaxed vessels lead to more pooling
Hormones rule over your pregnancy – particularly the hormone progesterone. Progesterone relaxes your blood vessels, allowing them to widen and blood to collect in pools.
What’s the Difference Between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Both of these vein conditions stem from the same root issues, but they differ in the following ways:
Varicose veins are large, raised, and swollen blood vessels that twist and turn beneath the skin. Spider veins are smaller and more superficial blood vessels that fan out in a spider web pattern.
Varicose veins tend to show up on the lower half of your body, typically on your thighs, calves, ankles and feet. They can also develop in the pelvic area or as hemorrhoids. Spider veins, on the other hand, can appear not just on the legs but also anywhere else on the body like the ankles, face, or pelvic area.
Varicose veins can be very painful and can cause aching or swelling of the legs. Spider veins typically don’t hurt at all.
Varicose veins may also cause these symptoms:
- Swelling of your feet and ankles
- Pain in your calves
- Burning feeling in your legs
- Sores or easy bleeding
- Changes in the color of your skin
- Scaling or inflammation of your skin
- Swelling in your legs, not just your ankles and feet
- Itchy skin over the top of the vein
- Burning in your legs
Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent Spider and Varicose Veins While I’m Pregnant?
Here are 14 easy tips that can help minimize the production of varicose and spider veins during your pregnancy.
- Elevate your legs above your heart.
- Get off your feet whenever you can.
- Don’t sit with your legs crossed!
- Practice low-impact, circulation-increasing exercises like walking or swimming.
- Wear comfy loose clothes.
- Put away your tight-fitting shoes and stiletto heels until after you’ve given birth.
- Wear maternity support hose or compression socks.
- Watch for unhealthy weight gain.
- Sleep on your left side to shift your baby’s weight off the main blood vessels in your pelvis.
- No heavy lifting.
- No straining on the toilet.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Consume foods high in Vitamin C.
- Eat healthy fiber like whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
When Will These Ugly Veins Go Away?
You’ve probably heard that once you get varicose veins or spider veins, you can’t get rid of them without intervention. This is true of all damaged veins except those caused by pregnancy. Pregnancy veins may shrink or disappear within a few months after delivery. If you get pregnant again, the same veins are likely to pop out again.
If your varicose or spider veins decide to stick around, don’t worry. They can be easily removed for both aesthetic and medical reasons using minimally invasive vein removal treatments.
When Should I Consult a Doctor?
Although spider veins and varicose veins are a regular part of pregnancy, you should let your doctor know as soon as you see one. Spider veins are less concerning, but although varicose are generally harmless, there’s an association between varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
You and your healthcare provider can work as a team monitoring these damaged veins for other symptoms like swelling, redness, itchiness, or throbbing.
When Should I Consult With a Vein Specialist?
Since varicose veins and spider veins are a normal part of pregnancy, we suggest that you wait for a couple of months until after your baby is born to visit a vein specialist (unless your doctor is concerned about an underlying condition).
There’s no need for unnecessary procedures, even the non-invasive and minimally invasive vein removal treatments that we offer. In all likelihood, the damaged veins will go away on their own if you give them the time. However, if the months go by and the veins aren’t going bye-bye, then it’s time to visit a vein specialist.
If that time comes, we’re here for you!
At Denver Vein Treatment Center, we specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with varicose veins and spider veins. Our minimally invasive techniques provide effective vein treatment in a comfortable office setting, and get you back into your everyday routine with minimal downtime. Contact us for a consultation today!