Image of woman with vericose veins

It is not uncommon for spider and varicose veins to first appear following pregnancy.  Multiparous women appear to be even at greater risk.  Fortunately, the new unsightly veins generally follow a benign course.   Most women have little or no discomfort and treatment is not always sought.  However, some women demonstrate heavy, achy legs that progressively worsen with the pregnancy.  Palpable, tender varicose veins are often observed with this presentation.  Skin eczema, itching or burning are also described. The symptoms tend to be worse at the end of the day.

What changes during pregnancy cause varicose veins?

Normal physiologic changes during pregnancy include an increase in the volume of blood in the body.  This may lead to common findings such as edema, especially during the third trimester.  Additionally, blood flow from the legs to the pelvis slows due to increase in progesterone and size of the fetus. The circulatory and hormonal changes support the development of the fetus and prepare the body for labor and delivery.  It is unclear how these normal physiologic changes can trigger the development of varicose veins in susceptible women.

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