This week I have seen 3 ladies, two from London and one from Bristol who had been advised by their GP to defer any treatment for their varicose veins until they have completed their family and had all their children. Fortunately, they questioned this advice and asked me for a second opinion. This advice is not in keeping with our modern understanding of what causes varicose veins. It is based on the incorrect belief that pregnancy causes varicose veins and that having children after varicose vein treatment will undo all the benefit of any treatment. To put it bluntly, this advice is simply wrong and I am amazed that people are still receiving this advice.
Last year I treated a lovely lady from Dorset called Marie who tells her story of varicose veins and the effects of pregnancy.
“I was in my early thirties when I developed veins in both my legs and they got worse when I had my first child. I went to my GP about a burning cramp sensation in my right leg which I was told was phlebitis. My GP referred me to Dr Gajraj about my phlebitis and he suggested I have the veins in my right leg treated first and if I was pleased, I could have my left leg treated. All went very well and the veins were sorted out under a local just in a few hours. While I was recovering and about to have my left leg done, I found out I was pregnant. Dr Gajraj said we would have to wait until after my second child was born and then he would be able to treat my left leg. Well, my right leg was absolutely fine and caused me no trouble and no new veins appeared – unlike my left leg, which did get worse. This made me think about what I had been told when I was younger by friends and professionals that I could only have my veins treated once I’d had all my children as they would come back. Well they were wrong! I wish I’d had my veins done sooner then I probably wouldn’t have suffered with phlebitis and they wouldn’t have got so bad. It is the best thing I have done (apart from having my children). My legs feel and look much better and I now feel more confident about taking my children swimming, as before I was too ashamed to go and who knows I might even start wearing a skirt!”
Veins and Pregnancy – The Facts
I think Marie’s story makes the point very well. Varicose veins are not caused by pregnancy. If pregnancy were a major cause of varicose veins, we would expect far more women than men to suffer from them. In fact carefully designed medical studies and surveys indicate that men are affected as frequently as women. Indeed, one of the largest and best designed studies from Edinburgh suggests that men may actually be affected by vein problems more frequently than women.
In my opinion, pregnancy is best regarded as a risk factor, that is if you have a weakness of the veins already, pregnancy will aggravate them. So, I often see women who report that their veins got worse or even caused complications in pregnancy but they were there all the time, albeit not so severe.
So what is the relevance of all of this to those considering starting a family and having children? Well the message is clear. If you have any signs or symptoms of vein problems, get them treated early, preferably before you become pregnant as they are likely to get worse. Secondly, don’t wait until you’ve had all your children. If your veins are dealt with properly, they shouldn’t come back when you are expecting.
Contact me today for a confidential chat
If you’re worried about your veins and would like a confidential chat please do get in touch. I am happy to offer simple advice by telephone and email for free and without obligation.