Varicose veins in pregnancy: how to prevent them and how to get rid of them

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Catherine Le Nevez
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Varicose veins in pregnancy

Many women develop varicose veins during pregnancy, for others, existing small varices worsen during the nine months and become more evident. The good news is that varicose veins in some vessels disappear spontaneously after childbirth, especially if they never appeared before pregnancy.





In this article

  • What are varicose veins
  • Symptoms of varicose veins in pregnancy
  • Causes
  • When to intervene?
  • How to prevent varicose veins

What are varicose veins

The task of the vene is to lead the used and oxygen-free blood back to the heart; up to 7000 liters of blood flow each day along a 14 km venous system. In each vein there are small (venous) valves 2 to 3 centimeters large. They are like double-leaf doors, opening in one direction only. And they make the blood only flow upwards.



If the connective tissue of the vein wall thins, the veins do not receive sufficient support from the outside. And therefore they widen. And the consequence is that the valves no longer close properly: the blood no longer rises upwards and accumulates downwards. In this way the vein widens even more. And in the long run it becomes curved, winding and thick.

Symptoms of varicose veins in pregnancy

How are varicose veins recognized? They are usually visible to the naked eye, but not always. "Because the blood stops at the ankle, the first signs are often found here," says Christine Schwahn-Schreiber, a German vascular surgeon and vein specialist. Furthermore, if the shoes no longer fit overnight, it could be a signal. In fact, the malleolus may also have enlarged due to varicose veins present inside.



Other characteristics:

  • night cramps in the calves,
  • tired, heavy, swollen legs that seem to boil or tingle or itch.

Causes

Sedentary activities or standing a lot, pregnancy, tight shoes and high heels: these are the most common causes of varicose veins. One in two women is affected, but only one in four men. Varicose veins can be hereditary.

Why do varicose veins form in pregnancy?

There are several reasons:

  • the baby in the belly increases the pressure in the veins,
  • The growing uterus blocks the flow of the veins in the groin, and more blood needs to be pumped around the body.
  • In addition, the hormone progesterone loosens the connective tissue.

Markus Stücker, German dermatologist at the St. Josef University Dermatology Clinic in Bochum, explains: "Progesterone loosens the connective tissue, which facilitates childbirth. Unfortunately, however, the veins also become thinner and wider and varicose veins form."

Read also: Varicose veins in pregnancy, the possible treatments

When to intervene?

The dermatologist advises to wait for the end of the period nursing and in any case at least six months after giving birth, because varicose veins could re-form. The best time for surgery is there cold season, because after that you will have to wear it for quite some time compression stockings which are certainly not pleasant during the summer.

Two tips for the period up to the surgery:

  1. compression stockings as they support weak connective tissue
  2. pastilles with the active ingredients of horse chestnut, because they act as decongestants.

How to prevent varicose veins

  • Engaging in light aerobic sports: walking or cycling.
  • Swim: water pressure acts like a compression sock; furthermore, the fresh water squeezes the vessels.
  • Avoid the sun, saunas, solarium or hot baths.
  • Massage the legs with movements in the direction of the heart. It is not necessary to use specific creams for the veins: each skin cream, preferably cold, has the same beneficial effect.
  • Avoid tight jeans, which cut the crotch when sitting.
  • From sessions to do gymnastics for the feet from time to time.
  • As often as possible, lift your legs high. Place the foot end of the bed five centimeters higher.
  • Last tip: it is better to lie down or walk rather than sit or stand still.

Consultation by Christine Schwahn-Schreiber, German vascular surgeon and vein specialist

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