There's no getting around it: Spider veins are unattractive, annoying, and an unfortunate part of pregnancy. These threadlike red or blue lines are simply enlarged blood vessels. They can appear anywhere on your body and are most common on the breasts, belly, face, and legs. Sometimes several develop in one area, making a pattern like a spiderweb -- thus the name spider veins. Occasionally spider veins cause pain or a burning sensation; usually they're painless. Not everyone gets spider veins, but they tend to run in families.
Spider veins can sometimes be prevented by wearing support hose, keeping your weight at a normal level, exercising regularly, wearing flat-heeled shoes, and eating a high-fiber diet, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Staying out of the sun helps prevent spider veins from appearing on the face.
Spider veins can be treated with laser therapy or with a procedure called sclerotherapy, in which a dermatologist injects a liquid solution into the veins. Over a period of weeks or months, the veins turn into scar tissue and are absorbed by the body. After several treatments most people can expect a 50-90 percent improvement, the AAD says.
It's best to delay treatment until after your baby is born or until you're finished having children. This is also true for varicose veins, which are larger. If you have them treated now, you may end up having to do it again.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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