Sclerotherapy

Spider Vein Treatment

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Sclerotherapy: Uses, Results, Cost, Side Effects, and Recovery

Do you have enlarged, swollen, twisted veins in your legs? Do your blue or purple leg veins look unsightly? The problem could be varicose veins or “spider veins,” which happen due to faulty valves in the leg veins. The faulty valves allow blood to flow in the wrong direction, leading to the pooling of blood in the leg veins. Varicose veins are believed to affect nearly 25 to 50% of adults. However, a non-surgical treatment called sclerotherapy could offer help if you have spider veins. Read on to learn more.

What is sclerotherapy?

Varicose veins can be painful to the point that they limit daily activities like walking. Shrinking the swollen and enlarged veins not only treats symptoms such as pain but also makes the veins less visible, which is an additional benefit.

Sclerotherapy is an effective non-surgical, minimally-invasive injection treatment for varicose veins and spider veins. The treatment involves injecting a solution called a sclerosant into the affected vein, which causes the vein to scar. This essentially blocks off the veins with faulty valves and forces the blood to flow through healthy veins. With time, the treated vein is absorbed by the body and fades into the surrounding tissue. It can take a few weeks for the treated veins to collapse and fade, so the full results of sclerotherapy treatment are visible after about a month. Some patients need several sclerotherapy sessions to obtain optimum results.

Does sclerotherapy really work?

Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure for spider veins and varicose veins. It is popular because the treatment is quick (it takes less than an hour) and relatively painless. The success of the treatment depends on the size of the veins.  A spider vein must be large enough to allow threading with a needle but be small enough to collapse after sclerotherapy treatment. Spider veins that are too small may be better treated with laser treatment. Varicose veins that are too large can benefit from a consultation with a vascular surgeon who will evaluate the blood flow in the vein and may recommend surgery to remove a large varicose vein individually.

How to prepare for sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy treatment involves injecting sclerosing medicine directly into the affected vein. The medicine irritates the walls of the vein and causes them to collapse, cutting off blood flow in the swollen vein. There is no special preparation required. You should follow your provider’s instructions. You may be asked to avoid using lotions or creams on your legs before the sclerotherapy treatment.

After the sclerotherapy treatment, your provider will advise you to remain active to prevent the formation of blood clots. It’s also recommended that you avoid sun exposure because this can cause hyperpigmentation (dark spots) to form in the treated area.

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Does sclerotherapy hurt?

No anesthesia is used for sclerotherapy treatment. You may experience minor discomfort, like a pinch, when the thin needle is inserted into the vein. Also, there can be a stinging sensation as the irritant being injected begins to act.

It is important to choose an experienced sclerotherapy provider because the procedure can be painful if the sclerosing agent is not placed carefully and leaks into surrounding tissues.

How long does sclerotherapy last?

Sclerotherapy treatments have a 50-90% chance of success. The results of sclerotherapy are permanent because the swollen, enlarged vein collapses and dissolves and is gone forever. However, sclerotherapy does not prevent new veins from appearing, which may require additional treatment. For this reason, many patients need to return for maintenance sclerotherapy treatment every few years.

What are the side effects of sclerotherapy?

Many patients experience local reactions like redness, bruising, and discoloration at the sclerotherapy injection site. These symptoms are temporary and resolve relatively quickly. Most people can resume normal activities immediately after sclerotherapy. However, your medical provider may recommend you wear compression garments for some time.

It is worth noting that sclerotherapy is not right for everyone. People with a history of heart conditions, those who take blood thinner medications, or those who are prone to forming blood clots may not be candidates for this treatment.

Is sclerotherapy right for me?

You should consider sclerotherapy for spider veins and varicose veins if you have painful veins and your legs feel sore and heavy. The treatment is also advised if you are starting to develop skin problems on the legs, such as patchy, dry skin with rashes. Your medical provider will evaluate your varicose veins and tell you whether you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy.

Choosing a sclerotherapy provider

Sclerotherapy is a minor, minimally-invasive procedure that can successfully fix painful, swollen leg veins. Serious side effects are rare, and success rates are high. It is important to choose an experienced sclerotherapy provider, however, to ensure the best outcomes and to reduce your risk of side effects.

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