The Best Treatment For Varicose Veins
During the last months of pregnancy, many women experience a change in the veins on the lower half of their bodies. The condition, known as varicose veins, result in unusually swollen blue or purple veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin. The enlarged veins commonly occur in the legs, on the buttocks, and around the vaginal area. They’re different from spider veins or visible veins, which are typically smaller and do not have the tell-tale bulging.
According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, there are nearly 40 million people in the United States with the condition. About half of pregnant women will experience these squiggly, discoloured veins, and the condition tends to get worse with age and with each successive pregnancy. The condition can be hereditary, so if other members of the family have had them, you will be more likely to get them.
Many people wonder why varicose veins occur when a woman is pregnant. During pregnancy, increased progestin levels relax the walls of the blood vessels as the blood volume in the body increases to support two lives. The veins in the lower half of the body, already working against gravity, expand and distort under the additional volume. This makes them more visible under the skin. The swollen, discoloured veins are generally harmless, although they may become itchy and uncomfortable.
They may also make the legs feel heavy and achy. The symptoms tend to be worse at the end of the day, and standing for long periods of time can make the symptoms more severe. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods available that relieve the discomfort and reduce the appearance of varicose veins. Thus, what is the best treatment for varicose veins during pregnancy?
Diet and Exercise
A balanced healthy pregnancy diet and regular exercise can minimize swelling of the veins. Make sure to eat lots of foods with vitamin C and foods that contain fibre to enhance skin health and prevent constipation. Drinking plenty of water and reducing the intake of sodium is also important. Staying within the recommended weight range for each stage of pregnancy will minimize the amount of pressure on the veins in the lower extremities.
Before starting an exercise regimen, talk with a doctor to confirm that it’s safe to exercise during pregnancy. The exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective. Even a brisk walk around the block can help improve circulation and reduce the prominence of the veins.
There are a variety of clothing items available to help improve circulation in the lower extremities. Graduated socks and compression stockings for varicose veins, available at pharmacies and medical supply stores, makes it easier for blood to flow back up toward the heart.
The socks or stockings should be put on before getting out of bed in the morning and worn for the entire day to be the most effective. Maternity support hosiery can also be used to put pressure on the legs and stimulate blood flow.
While many pregnant women will see their veins improve within three to four months after giving birth, sometimes they don’t improve much at all and a medical option is needed to get the desired results. There are three main medical treatments available: surgery, laser ablation therapy and injections of chemical foam. According to a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, laser ablation therapy was least likely to cause minor complications.
Laser ablation therapy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure with fast recovery time. With this method, lasers are used to heat the internal wall of the vein enough to close it off. Over time, the body absorbs the vein, removing the dark line from the skin.
There is also a foam treatment for varicose veins called sclerotherapy. With this treatment method, a foam solution, typically sodium tetradecyl sulphate, is injected into the affected veins to damage the internal lining and cause blood clotting within the vein. In time, the body destroys the vein and it will disappear.
Once enough foam has been injected, a bandage and an elastic compression stocking will be applied to compress the treated veins. The bandage and stocking should be worn continuously for 5 days. After that, the stocking should be worn for another 7 days to complete the treatment.
Issues involving the long saphenous vein, short saphenous vein, or isolated veins in the leg are suitable for this form of treatment. Depending on the number of veins to be treated, 2 or 3 treatment sessions may be needed to get the desired results. Some slight stinging may occur as the foam is injected, but it is usually painless.
Because the foam treatment method is a newer method, the long-term results are not yet known. However, initial results have shown that it is a promising alternative to surgery. There are several side effects associated with the treatment, but they are considered rare. The possible side effects include brown pigmentation of the skin, hard lumps forming in the treated veins, and allergic reactions to the solution used.
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