Bought to you by Mother & Baby
While your mother might have been told that they were an inevitable result of being pregnant, there's a lot you can do to prevent varicose veins.
What causes them?
Varicose veins are swollen veins just beneath the skin, and they're usually found on the legs. The veins in your legs have special valves that help blood return up your legs, back to your heart. If these valves become weakened, blood starts to collect in them, they become larger than normal and end up looking like a tangle of blue wires on your leg.
Other ways of detecting varicose veins may include thread or spider veins, discoloured skin, aching or restless legs and swollen ankles. Some people find the skin over the veins becomes itchy, too. Varicose veins often become more common with age, when the walls of your veins can lose their elasticity making them balloon out.
Who's at risk?
Varicose veins are an inherited trait, so if one of your parents has them, it's worth taking extra care of your legs. Another big risk factor is pregnancy. This is because pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, make the walls of your blood vessels relax so that blood is more likely to collect in the veins in your legs. The extra weight caused by your growing baby and the increased blood volume you gain during pregnancy don't help much either.
If varicose veins should develop during pregnancy, they should not be considered for surgical treatment until after the baby has been born. If you have large varicose veins, surgery to remove the veins may be needed. This is sometimes known as 'stripping'.
With small varicose veins, a few self-help remedies may be all you need to ease the discomfort. Remedies include: