Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to treat painful, unsightly varicose and spider veins. These veins are treated by injecting a solution of sodium chloride directly into the damaged veins, causing irritation and eventual clotting and collapse of the vein. Sclerotherapy has been used on patients across the world since the 1930s and remains the primary effective treatment for varicose and spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is performed with the use of ultrasound imaging to ensure precise, effective results that relieve the painful symptoms and bothersome appearance of varicose and spider veins. After being injected with a sclerosant solution, the damaged veins collapse and turn into scar tissue that eventually fades and is absorbed into the bloodstream. This safe procedure is performed in your doctor’s office and takes less than an hour.
We take advantage of the latest technology by using the VeinViewer by Luminetx™, a device that uses near-infrared light to produce images of vascular structures, allowing your doctor to clearly see the damaged veins as he is operating on them. With this technology, your doctor can see veins that are not visible from the surface, ensuring more precise results from the sclerotherapy procedure. Once the targeted veins are identified, they can be easily injected.
Sclerotherapy is performed in the doctor’s office and only takes about 15 to 45 minutes. No anesthesia is needed for this quick and simple procedure, and most patients experience only minimal pain and a mild burning sensation. The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and sclerosant is then injected into the affected veins with a very fine needle. These injections are monitored through ultrasound images to guide the doctor for more precise results.
The number of injections made during each session depends on the number and length of the damaged veins. Typically, one injection is made for every inch of spider vein. A cotton ball and compression tape is applied to each injection site after the procedure is completed.
Recovery and Results
Patients can return home shortly after sclerotherapy, and most can return to work and other normal activities the same day. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for 7 to 10 days. Compression and support bandages may need to be worn for a few days after the procedure, and some patients may experience mild bruising and pigmentation after sclerotherapy. These side effects usually subside on their own after a few days.
Since bruising may occur, it may be a few weeks before the true results of sclerotherapy are visible. Results are usually fully visible after 3 to 6 weeks. It is reported that up to 80 percent of damaged veins can be eliminated during each sclerotherapy session. Most patients are satisfied with the results of this procedure. Patients can help preserve the results of sclerotherapy and prevent new veins from appearing by maintaining an active life after the procedure.
Although sclerotherapy is a safe procedure that has been successfully performed for many years, there are certain risks and side effects associated with any medical procedure. Some of these side effects include lumpy, hard veins, raised red areas, brown lines or spots, swelling, allergic reactions or infection. Your doctor will discuss these side effects with you and answer any other concerns you may have about the sclerotherapy procedure.
Most patients with spider or varicose veins are good candidates for sclerotherapy, although the procedure should not be performed on pregnant women or patients who have had a blood clot in the past. If you are interested in the sclerotherapy procedure, please call us today to schedule a consultation.