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Pregnancy accelerates the development of varicose veins. The hormonal changes during pregnancy expand the blood volume and allow the veins to stretch. The compression of the abdominal and pelvic veins by the enlarged uterus greatly increases the pressure inside the veins of the lower pelvis and legs by creating partial obstruction to the flow of blood out of the legs and lower pelvis.

These changes due to pregnancy cause some women to develop more symptoms of VV and others simply develop worse symptoms ranging from leg swelling to pain and enlarging VV. The VV which become symptomatic during pregnancy may be in the legs, labia, or perineum (the tissue near the outside of the vagina or anus). Superficial thrombophlebitis involving clotting of veins in the skin or fatty tissue of the legs is not uncommon during pregnancy. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious complication during pregnancy requiring injectable anticoagulants through the remainder of the pregnancy to prevent formation of additional clot (thrombus). The risk of DVT remains elevated for at least three months after pregnancy.

We believe that all women should wear elastic compression stockings during pregnancy to reduce the severity of symptoms and complications of varicose veins during pregnancy. Some women may do well with calf length support hose but those who have swelling or varicose veins above the upper calf should consider wearing thigh length support or support pantyhose with a maternity panel.

Varicose veins which progress or develop during pregnancy will improve after the baby is delivered, but they will worsen with each successive pregnancy. For this reason, it usually is best to treat the varicose veins between pregnancies in order to avoid increasing misery with each pregnancy.

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