FRIDAY, Jan. 13, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- An estimated 50 percent to 55 percent of pregnant women in the United States develop varicose veins, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.
"More than just a cosmetic issue, varicose veins can be painful and can lead to more serious health problems," Dr. Eva Rzucidlo, chair of the group's Women's Leadership Committee, said in a society news release.
"The first line of management for varicose vein treatment is medical management with compression stockings worn daily," Rzucidlo said.
"Another option is sclerotherapy, the sealing off of the veins -- mainly done for spider veins," she said. "Radiofrequency and laser treatments are also options which are minimally invasive procedures often performed in a doctor's office. For very large varicose veins, a surgical procedure known as vein stripping is available."
Pregnancy can cause varicose veins by putting pressure on the uterus, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health. Other factors that contribute to varicose veins include hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause, obesity, lack of movement, a family history of varicose veins and increasing age.
Ways to reduce the risk of varicose veins or ease the discomfort include: maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, elevating legs when resting, avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time, wearing elastic support stockings, eating a low-salt, high-fiber diet, and not wearing high-heel shoes for long periods of time.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about varicose veins.