The development or worsening of varicose veins during pregnancy is very common. In fact, many people are not aware that the connection between varicose veins and pregnancy is quite significant. About 40 percent of pregnant women suffer from varicose veins during pregnancy. These bulging, twisted veins can cause legs to feel heavy, restless, painful and achy, and can increase your risk of developing blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a vein disease that occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body.
Pregnancy causes veins in a woman’s body to work harder than normal, leading to the development of varicose veins. Here’s why:
- The higher levels of progesterone that occur during pregnancy can make you more susceptible to developing varicose veins. This is because increased hormones relax veins and promotes blood to flow in the wrong direction , which can result in the formation of varicose veins.
- The increased volume of blood in your body during pregnancy causes your veins to work harder, resulting in weakened valves that can lead to pooling of blood within the veins.
- The pressure of an enlarged uterus on the pelvic veins can obstruct the veins from draining into lower extremities and lead to the backflow of blood, resulting in varicose veins.
- Family history of vein disease can increase your risk of getting varicose veins during pregnancy.
The good news is that for some women, varicose veins tend to improve after pregnancy when progesterone levels return to normal. But for other women, varicose veins can persist after childbirth. No matter what category you fall into, varicose veins can worsen with successive pregnancies. This can put pregnant women with varicose veins at a higher risk of developing blood clots, including a DVT.
A study by the journal JAMA found that among adults with varicose veins, there is a significant risk of developing a DVT. A DVT occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. If left untreated, a DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism, which is when a blood clot gets wedged into an artery in your lungs. This is a life-threatening condition.
The great news is that thanks to modern technology, treating varicose veins in between pregnancies can significantly lower a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot, or a DVT, during and after pregnancy. This procedure, called endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), is minimally invasive, eliminates the need for surgery and has little-to-no downtime. In fact, patients can begin walking immediately after the procedure and return to normal activities the very next day.
If you are planning to become pregnant and have varicose veins or experienced them during a prior pregnancy, contact Dr. Rimas Gilvydis with Northern Illinois Vein Clinic to see if EVLA is the right solution for you. We accept insurance from most major providers and EVLA is covered by most plans.
Our team has performed more than 20,000 successful laser vein treatments. We are known for our reputation for excellence in vein care and for always providing the highest-quality, individualized care with the best possible outcomes for our patients.