Varicose Veins During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of immense change and strain on the body. Many aspects of female physiology adapt to these changes, including the vascular system. Varicose veins are common, affecting 40% of pregnant women. (1) Similarly, other related vascular issues like spider veins frequently accompany them. 

Throughout pregnancy, a woman may face many aches and pains, and varicose veins are no exception. They can cause the legs to feel heavy, itchy, swollen, and even painful. Standing for long periods may not be possible, and inevitably, a pregnant woman may become fatigued more frequently throughout the day. But how can this discomfort be treated? And what preventive measures can a woman take early in her pregnancy to reduce the chance of developing varicose veins?

At Premier Vein Clinic, pregnant women can receive the most useful advice to prevent the development of varicose veins, and to treat them if they are already present. Thanks to Dr. David Naar, board-certified vascular surgeon, patients in Westlake, OH can ensure their pregnancy runs as smoothly as possible, minimizing the risk and discomfort of pregnancy-related varicose veins. Call (440) 641-0433 or fill out an inquiry form to book your personal consultation with us.

“Women should be informed that varicose veins are a common symptom of pregnancy that will not cause harm.” (2)

About Varicose Veins

Varicose on legs, varicose vein during pregnancy Premier Vein Clinic Dr. David Naar Westlake, OH.

Varicose veins in the legs can appear for many different reasons. In fact, some people are more prone to them than others. Pregnancy is a known factor in their development.

Do I Have Varicose Veins?

The following describes some of the things you may see and feel if you have pregnancy-related varicose veins in the legs.

  • Gnarled, Visible Veins
  • Rubbery and Raised Veins
  • Blueish-purple Color
  • Leg Heaviness
  • Leg Itchiness
  • Leg Swelling (Edema)
  • Aching or Throbbing

Pregnancy & the Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system strays from its baseline in many ways during all stages of pregnancy. For example, even if you are in peak health, you may find yourself struggling for breath after very little exertion. They may become fatigued more quickly, and they may develop leg swelling and varicose veins. These and other important changes are measured by the field of hemodynamics.

What is Hemodynamics?

Hemodynamics is the study of how blood flows through your veins and arteries. Our bodies keep strict controls on blood flow, and adjust it as necessary according to the activities we are doing, and where we are. 

  • Example 1: If you are running a marathon, your blood vessels dilate, muscle contractions aid blood flow by pushing on veins, and your circulation rate increases. 
  • Example 2: If you are at altitude on a mountaintop, vascular resistance (a factor in blood pressure)  increases, increasing your heart rate, and raising your blood pressure. This is one reason why athletes like to train at altitude, as it acclimates the body to tougher cardiovascular conditions.

Hemodynamics & Pregnancy

Many hemodynamic changes occur while a woman is pregnant, some factors increase, and some decrease. In fact, at 24 weeks (2nd trimester), cardiac output can increase up to 45%. (2)

Increase During PregnancyDecrease During Pregnancy
Heart RateVascular Resistance
Respiratory RateBlood Pressure
Oxygen Consumption
Cardiac Output

It is important for the vascular system to adapt well to pregnancy. And one way it does so is vasodilation. Vasodilation is when blood vessels expand to let more blood through. A combination of factors, including increased estrogen and progesterone production, cause increased vasodilation throughout the body. (2) By increasing the capacity for blood flow to the placenta in this way, a mother can meet the needs of their growing baby. (4) 

Why Do Varicose Veins Occur in Pregnancy?

Vasodilation increases the size of many blood vessels (and some organs) during pregnancy. 

In particular, blood flow in the extremities can change, especially if the blood vessels are not working correctly. Pressure from the uterus can also cause compression leading to insufficiency in the inferior vena cava, the major vein that transports blood from the lower and middle thirds of the body back toward the heart.  This can result in venous insufficiency, a condition linked closely to varicose vein development.

Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is the inability of some veins (usually in the legs) to aid blood flow back to the heart effectively. The veins do not stop working completely, but they don’t work as they should. There is no medical consensus on the exact cause of venous insufficiency, but there are known risk factors. (3) These include:

  • Female Sex 
  • Oral Contraceptive Use
  • Hormone Replacement Medications
  • Pregnancy

As the veins are not working the way they should be, blood backflows and pools in certain areas, over time causing twisted, rubbery varicose veins. This process is called venous reflux.

Read Dr. Naar’s blog post: What Causes Varicose Veins?

Personal Consultation

Dr. Naar will assess your varicose veins at your personal consultation at our Westlake location. He will ask you to give details about your overall health, your health during your pregnancy, and the symptoms you are experiencing. Once he has all the written details, he will physically examine the areas of concern. 

There are different treatment methods for pregnancy-related varicose veins, depending on their severity and other factors. Dr. Naar will take all factors into consideration, then draw up a personalized treatment plan for you.

Book varicose vein treatment at Premier Vein Center by calling (440) 641-0433 or by contacting us online.

Conservative Management of Varicose Veins

Treatment for varicose veins during pregnancy may differ from other patient treatment plans. Surgery is usually not recommended. Instead, Dr. Naar will usually suggest non-surgical ways to deal with varicose vein discomfort, and to avoid making the veins worse:

  • Don’t stand or sit for too long.
  • Move around where possible.
  • Elevate your legs when sitting.
  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting.
  • Exercise a little every day (low-impact only).
  • Use compression socks/maternity hose.

As you may have physical restrictions, and some activities may be too risky for a pregnant person, check with your primary care provider to discuss. If your leg veins feel painful, warm, or the surrounding skin is red, schedule an appointment with us immediately, as this may indicate a “blood clot” or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

More About Compression Therapy

Compression therapy can prevent venous hypertension in the lower legs. It can also help to prevent venous ulcers – painful lesions in the vein’s vicinity. It is useful in the management of varicose veins but it will not get rid of them. 

Graduated compression hosiery applies pressure to the superficial veins. This ensures that blood flow is directed away from the periphery toward the deeper veins.

“Compression stockings can improve the symptoms [of varicose veins] but will not prevent varicose veins from emerging.” (2)

Read Dr. Naar’s blog post: Do I Need Compression Socks?

After Pregnancy

In the postpartum period, most patients will initially be busy with the emotions and new responsibilities of parenthood in the initial few days. However, once things calm down a little, you can take the necessary steps to deal with your varicose veins, especially if they are causing discomfort. 

If you are using compression hosiery, continue to wear them in the weeks that follow unless otherwise directed. You can take further steps to treat your varicose veins if you see no changes in the months after the birth of your child.

It is essential to continue to treat varicose veins where they are present. Speak to Dr. Naar about what to do once your pregnancy is complete.

Cost of Vein Treatment During Pregnancy in Westlake, OH

The cost of your treatment will be calculated once Dr. Naar has assessed your varicose veins and has selected the best treatment path for you. All this takes place in a single initial consultation.  Get quality care and expert solutions to pregnancy-related varicose veins. Call the Premier Vein Clinic office in Westlake at (440) 641-0433 for more scheduling information.


Will I get varicose veins when I’m pregnant?

Although many women develop varicose veins while they are pregnant, it is not an inevitability. Studies indicate that around 4 in 10 women will develop them, (1) so there is a fair-to-moderate chance you will not get them.

Will I get varicose veins when I’m pregnant?

Although many women develop varicose veins while they are pregnant, it is not an inevitability. Studies indicate that around 4 in 10 women will develop them, (1) so there is a fair-to-moderate chance you will not get them.

Does pregnancy increase the risk of DVT?

DVT in pregnancy is uncommon, however, venous thromboembolism, or VTE (a blood clot), is more common, including the three months after birth. All people are different and all pregnancies are different. To help prevent VTE, work with your healthcare provider to reduce the risks, taking your personal situation into consideration.


  1. National Clinical Centre (UK). Pregnancy. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); 2013. Accessed February 2, 2023.
  2. Sanghavi M, Rutherford JD. Cardiovascular Physiology of Pregnancy. Circulation. 2014;130(12):1003-1008. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.114.009029
  3. Johns Hopkins University, Sigvaris Corporation. Preventing the Development of Venous Insufficiency in Pregnant Women Through Use of Compression Stockings: A Randomized Pilot Study. Published January 25, 2018. Accessed February 2, 2023. 
  4. Boeldt DS, Bird IM. Vascular adaptation in pregnancy and endothelial dysfunction in preeclampsia. Journal of Endocrinology. 2017;232(1):R27-R44. doi:10.1530/joe-16-0340
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