Why Do Varicose Veins Occur With Pregnancy?

By Jonathan Calure, M.D.

Each year we treat over one thousand women seeking relief from the discomfort and appearance of varicose veins. The single most common medical history we hear from these patients recounts the appearance of or worsening of varicose veins with pregnancy. None of these women regret these veins when compared to the joy of bringing new life into the world, however, they do make swim team practice a bit less fun.

The normal physiologic changes in a woman's body are responsible for the emergence of varicose veins. As pregnancy proceeds, blood volume increases. Veins are the main storage space for the increasing amount of fluid. In the head and upper body, gravity pulls the venous blood back to the chest. In the lower half of the body, the venous blood flows against gravity. One way valves in the leg veins help to propel the blood flow back to the heart when the leg muscles contract. In some women, these valves are overwhelmed and give way, allowing the venous blood to drop back down, pushing back into the branches at the skin surface. After pregnancy, although blood volume returns to normal, the valve damage remains, and the veins progressively worsen with the constant pull of gravity.

Varicose veins are not primarily a cosmetic problem. True, they do cause a cosmetic concern. But the underlying cause of the bulging and discomfort is actually a medical problem called venous insufficiency. Commonly appearing in the late twenties and worsening with each pregnancy, varicose veins will continue to worsen with time. Later in life, complications of venous insufficiency include phlebitis, dermatitis, and blood clots. Sadly, all too often patients and physicians alike delay seeking appropriate care, thinking that the only option is a painful surgery; or seek inadequate, skin deep, cosmetic type of treatments.

Even "Spider Veins" or telangiectasia may be a sign of venous insufficiency when tiny skin veins, previously invisible, become engorged and enlarge. We evaluate many patients who present for treatment of spider veins, who have had these treated, only to see reappearance after 6-12 months. Worse still, some who opt for superficial treatments of leg spider veins exchange the veins for dark blotches in the skin. The underlying problem is never treated. A careful specialist ultrasound evaluation will usually show a deeper source of reflux in the single source vein.

A new outpatient treatment called the Venefit Procedure uses radiofrequency energy to close the leaky source veins, and eliminate the cause of varicose veins. With the Venefit Procedure, a tiny catheter is placed into the leaky source vein to deliver light energy to the vein wall. This energy causes collagen in the vein to change shape, closing the vein. This elegant procedure is completed in minutes. Patients report minimal or no discomfort and a return to work or normal activity the same day. We perform Venefit in our new 3500 sqft. outpatient surgicenter, where our patients enjoy a movie while they are treated. Venefit covered by most insurances and is performed in an office setting. Clinical studies have shown outstanding safety, efficacy, and patient satisfaction. Patients are delighted with symptom relief and cosmetic improvement, 98% of whom would recommend Venefit for a friend.

For more information about vein treatments, before and after results and over 100 patient testimonials, please visit schedule a formal venous evaluation you can register on line or call us at 410-964-VEIN (8346) or 877-7MD-VEIN. We have offices conveniently located in Columbia, Annapolis, Gambrills, Salisbury, and Chevy Chase, Maryland.


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