By Dr Pradeep P. Mistry MBChB ( Pret) MMed Surg ( Pret) FCS (SA) and Cert Vascular Surgery

As you grow and nourish your precious little one, taking care of your own health is essential. Dr Pradeep Mistry of Life Fourways Hospital talks to us about a crucial aspect: your vascular system.

The vascular system is a massive network of veins, arteries, and capillaries, with the heart at its core. The arteries transport oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your body, while the veins bring the blood back to the heart. The blood in the leg veins must flow upwards.  This is challenging due to gravity. To overcome this, the veins have one-way valves open and close to facilitate the blood’s upward flow. When these valves become weak or damaged, the blood pools in the legs, causing varicose veins, also known as venous insufficiency. So what are varicose veins?

Varicose veins during pregnancy are caused by increased blood volume, hormonal changes, and increased pressure on the veins from the growing uterus.

RISK FACTORS

Unfortunately, genetics significantly increase your chances of developing varicose veins, with women having a higher risk than men. Additionally, several other factors like obesity, pregnancy, smoking, a family history of venous insufficiency, inactivity, standing or sitting for long periods, and previous venous thrombosis can increase your risk. These factors can weaken and enlarge veins, leading to the development of varicose veins. Women who’ve had them in a previous pregnancy are also at a higher risk of developing them during pregnancy. S

APPEARANCE AND SYMPTOMS

Varicose veins usually occur closer to the skin’s surface and are often found on the back of the calf or the inside of the leg. Symptoms typically include:

  • A feeling of heaviness, tiredness, and aching, especially at the end of the day or after periods of prolonged standing.
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles (due to stagnant blood leaking through the walls of the veins into surrounding tissues).
  • Changes in skin colour.
  • Continual itching of the skin above the vein.
  • The development of non-healing ulcers at the ankles.

Varicose veins often worsen over time and can cause significant complications, including increased pigmentation, inflammation, eczema, superficial thrombophlebitis and skin ulcers above the ankle.

TREATMENTS

Our team provides customised treatment programs, taking into account all critical factors. Some of the treatment options include support hosiery (compression bandaging and stockings), radiofrequency ablation (Venefit/VNUS), surgery (Trendellenburg stripping, stab avulsions), glue injections (Veneseal), and foam sclerotherapy. A combination of treatments may be used for optimal results, and some procedures may be staged at different times. Fortunately, before we get there, we have access to the premier garments in support hosiery or graduated compression stockings.

SUPPORT HOSIERY OR GRADUATED COMPRESSION STOCKINGS

These special garments provide pressure to the leg, gradually decreasing from the ankle upwards. They help relieve symptoms, reduce swelling, and aid in healing skin ulcers caused by venous disease. They are also used after surgery to decrease the risk of clotting and bleeding under the skin. These stockings are available from an orthotist of your choice. There are several compression garments, ranging from Class I to Class IV, each with a different compression level. Class I stockings are for prevention and do not require a prescription, while higher stocking grades will need a script after a vascular assessment.

We hope this information helps maintain your health and wellness during your pregnancy. Our team is always here to assist and support you!

For more information, head on over to www.solidea.co.za

Dr Pradeep P. Mistry: Graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Pretoria. He furthered his education, completing his Master’s in Surgery and Fellowship in Surgery. Completed his fellowship in Vascular Surgery and received the CJC Nel award from VASSA (Vascular Society of Southern Africa) for excellent performance during the fellowship exams. Currently has a private practice at Life Fourways hospital, Netcare Sunninghill Hospital and Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre. Also involved as a Lecturer at the Wits Vascular Unit. Current Secretary and President-Elect of VASSA.