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How do varicose veins start during pregnancy?

I am 20 weeks pregnant and the back of my knees hurt when I walk. I am unsure if it is the just the extra weight or if it could be varicose veins. When do varicose veins usually show up during a pregnancy? What do they feel like when they start to appear?

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Doctors Answers (2)

From the first day you are pregnant, your body starts secreting hormones that relax the veins. This causes the veins to relax and allows you to be able to support double your blood volume during pregnancy to help carry the baby. That being said the hormones, the large uterus, the weight gain can all increase varices in pregnancy. During pregnancy, I recommend conservative treatments with compression hose 20 to 30mm/hg and elevating the legs. Around six weeks after pregnancy, any veins that remain can potentially be treated if need be. Hope this helps.

Varicose veins are typically an inherited condition. Hormonal changes during pregnancy dilate veins and can precipitate varicose veins. Often after the first pregnancy they may resolve on their own. After a second and subsequent pregnancy mostly they do not. We always recommend a medical grade of compression (20 to 30 mm/Hg), correctly measured and fitted by a certified fitter, and a thigh length. This gives relief from the discomfort of the aches and pains of pregnancy, but also will slow down the process of varicose veins if you are going to develop them. In some people the varicose veins are not painful; in other women they can be very painful and extend into the genital areas. There is no set stage at which they become a problem. I would recommend the hose for you and it may be enough to support the knees and legs. In some cases, we move to a 30-40 mm/Hg compression at the end of the second trimester. Starting early is the best time to start; later in your pregnancy is not the time to learn how to apply the hose!

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