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Surgery During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

Surgery in pregnancy

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in its guidance NG45 recommends that for all types of surgery, on the day of the operation all women of childbearing potential should asked about the possibility of pregnancy and made aware of the potential risks of the anaesthetic and the procedure to them and to their unborn child. So can varicose veins be treated safely during pregnancy? Let’s look at 4 important issues to consider.

Firstly, surgical interventions while pregnant are associated an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Compared to women who are not pregnant, the risk of venous thromboembolism is 4- to 5 times greater. Now although varicose vein treatment is safe and DVT as a complication of treatment is very rare for women who are not pregnant, treating varicose veins during pregnancy exposes the mother to the increased risk of this complication, which in some cases can be fatal. The reason for this is that pregnant women are in a hypercoagulable state, that is their blood is sticky and more susceptible to clot formation.

Secondly, varicose veins tend to regress anyway and may disappear once the baby is born. The superficial vein reflux that is the underlying issue in varicose vein formation is then easier to treat.

Thirdly, treatment of varicose veins during pregnancy may cause the appearance of new broken vein or spider veins (known medically as telangiectasia). These new spider veins may be very extensive and unsightly and may spoil the cosmetic appearance of the leg.

Lastly, all medical interventions during pregnancy pose a risk to the developing baby. Some drugs for example are associated with congenital malformations in early pregnancy and surgery can cause spontaneous premature labour. Although local anaesthetics (local anesthesia) are thought to be very safe, it is a general principle that the foetus (fetus) should not be exposed to prescription medicines. Most mothers would not wish run this risk to the baby unless treatment was potentially life saving.

If you are a pregnant and you are suffering with your veins, consider managing symptoms with medical grade compression stockings, elevating your legs whenever you can and perhaps cooling your legs with cold water. When you have had your baby, consider intervention to treat the reflux even if the veins seem to go away completely. If you are a women of childbearing potential, you will be sensitively asked to confirm you are not pregnant as part of The Melbury Clinic and VeinCare Centre consent process.

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