6 Postpartum Body Problems--And How to Fix Them

Varicose Veins

As many as 40 percent of pregnant women develop dilated blood vessels near the skin's surface, most often on the calves and thighs. "Heredity, hormones, and the pressure on the veins of pregnancy pounds all play a role," Dr. Masterson says. Varicose veins may improve after childbirth, but they won't go away completely.

What works: Sclerotherapy. A doctor injects the affected leg veins with a solution that causes them to close, then fade or disappear within about two weeks. More than one session may be needed, and experts recommend waiting at least six months after delivery to begin. Temporary side effects include stinging at the injection site, muscle cramps, and redness or brown spots. Keep in mind that sclerotherapy typically isn't covered by insurance unless the varicose veins are causing pain.

What doesn't: Vitamin K creams. "Varicose veins are too deep for a topical cream to reach and provide any benefit," Dr. Jaliman says.

Quickest fix: Pants and long skirts. Or camouflage veins with waterproof makeup, like Dermablend or Era Face, or with self-tanning lotion. "The veins will appear less blue against tanned skin," McEvoy says.

Copyright © 2003 Michele Bender. Reprinted with permission of Parents magazine November 2003 issue.

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