Spider veins are the small red or bluish veins that appear mostly on the legs, though sometimes on the face or elsewhere. They may appear in a sunburst or spider web pattern or as a series of short, unconnected lines. Spider veins can occur alone or with varicose veins and visible veins.
WHAT CAUSES SPIDER VEINS DURING PREGNANCY
Not only are your hormones raging at their highest level in your life, but the increased volume of blood you’re carrying creates significant pressure on your blood vessels, causing even small veins to swell. And genetics can predispose you to spider veins.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
While they might be driving you crazy now, keep in mind that spider veins are usually a temporary side effect of pregnancy that improves within three or four months after giving birth. In the meantime, there are a few tactics that can help prevent them and reduce their appearance.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT THEM
- Fill up on fibre.
Be sure to include high-fibre foods in your diet, since constipation (another all-too-common pregnancy symptom) can contribute to swollen veins. Straining during a bowel movement constricts the deep veins in your legs – which means the blood must then find another route through superficial veins, thus creating those lovely blue streaks. Good options for regularity include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains like bran.
- Get plenty of vitamin C.
Make sure to eat lots of C in a healthy pregnancy diet – your body uses it to manufacture collagen and elastin, two important connective tissues that help repair and maintain veins.
- Work it out.
Regular exercise improves leg strength, circulation, and the stability of your veins. Most effective are moves that work your legs, such as walking or running. And keep your weight gain gradual and moderate to avoid placing excess pressure on your legs.
- Keep it flowing.
Try not to cross your legs when you’re sitting (which restricts blood flow), and elevate them when you’re resting to ease circulation from your legs and feet back to your heart.
- Try not to be on your feet for long stretches.
If you do have to stand for a long period of time, shift your weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. If you have to sit for a long time, stand up and move around or take a short walk every half hour or so.
- Suit up.
Support stockings can help but stay away from tight clothing or anything that constricts your waist, groin, or legs (no tight jeans — as if you could, anyway).
- Camouflage it.
In the meantime, try hiding the most visible ones with flesh-toned concealer specifically designed for spider veins.
- Save some solutions for later.
Several effective cosmetic procedures can minimize or eliminate spider veins, including laser treatments and sclerotherapy, a procedure in which the veins are injected with a special solution, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. But you can’t try either until after you deliver.
After you deliver and until your spider veins make their retreat, continue to wear support hose, exercise regularly (once your practitioner gives the green light), avoid prolonged standing or sitting, and put up your legs whenever possible.