Varicose Veins During Pregnancy: How to Prevent Them

Cynthia Dermody
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red veins in leaf
Flickr photo by Clearly Ambiguous

Ask a plastic surgeon about the best way to prevent varicose and spider veins, and she'll tell you to wear compression or support panty hose as much as possible -- every day if you can. That may seem like torture, or at least really uncomfortable, but it's the only thing that works to minimize those ugly squiggles that keep you from wearing your shorts and bathing suit.

Never is this more important than during pregnancy, since up to 40 percent of all expectant mothers will develop varicose or spider veins.

Support hose in pregnancy works the same way it does any other time: It applies gentle and constant pressure to the legs to keep the blood flowing through the vessels, preventing or minimizing blockages that lead to the veins.

There are specifically designed maternity support hose available at maternity clothing shops or online. Some brands design the hose specifically with vein prevention in mind, using decreasing pressure from the ankle to the knee, forcing blood to the leg's deeper veins, and helping blood flow.

A few packages are far cheaper than the alternative -- treating them after they form. There are lasers and various light treatments, but by far the gold standard continues to be the method surgeons and dermatologists have been using for years -- sclerotherapy, where the vein is injected with a saline solution to cause its collapse. It's expensive, running upward of several hundred dollars per treatment.

Are you wearing support hose during pregnancy? Have you noticed any unsightly changes to your legs lately?

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