Question: I have just had a baby and I have noticed that a vein behind my knee is starting to bulge. It is not only a little painful but is very unsightly and I feel embarrassed to show my legs off at all. Is there anything I can do to reduce the swelling, or will I require an operation to remove it?
17 September, 2008 – 19:22
Answer: You are not alone in your concern. Surprisingly, the question I get asked repeatedly by heavily pregnant and post natal women is not “When will my libido return?” or “How soon will I loose weight?’ but “How can I get rid of my varicose veins?”
The rather unfortunate answer is that they are alarmingly easy to acquire and notoriously difficult to get rid of.
But it’s not all bad news. In severe cases surgery is the sensible option, but if you take care of them before they get to such a serious stage, then less drastic treatments can go a long way to easing the problem.
Varicose veins develop when one of the valves in a leg vein fails to open properly due usually to strangulation from swelling of the leg. Therefore some blood is forced to flow back down the leg, which causes the superficial veins under the skin to bulge.
The best way to deal with the onset of a varicose vein is firstly to try and prevent it getting any worse, to do this you need to stop your legs swelling.
After a long day on your feet, sit with your legs raised above the level of your waist for at least half an hour every day. This ensures good drainage from your ankles and feet and reduces feet and legs from swelling.
You may also want to try a pair of support tights or stockings and put them on before you get out bed every day, because if you wait until you are standing up you may be exacerbating the problem. These tights may not be a great fashion statement, but they do work.
Exercise such as walking, swimming or jogging enables the muscles in the legs to help push blood up the vein and should be done as regularly as possible. I know it is easy to let exercise slip with a young baby around, but try to grab at least ten minutes a day. By upping your heart rate through exercise you are making the blood pump faster around the body and so un-blocking any sluggish vein valves through increased pressure.
Finally try to avoid crossing your legs while sitting as much as possible, as this cuts off the blood supply and can restrict circulation in the legs.
As far as treatments are concerned, some creams my customers have tried have proved a great success not only in helping with the discomfort but also in some cases by removing the fledgling bulges altogether. But really there is no substitute for exercise and good nutrition.