Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for varicose veins and spider veins, according to the Office on Women’s Health. Varicose veins and spider veins are enlarged, red- or blue-colored veins that appear on your thighs, the backs of your calves, or on the inside of your leg. Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that effectively treats varicose veins and spider veins.
Vein doctors, also known as vascular surgeons, often perform sclerotherapy for cosmetic reasons. Varicose veins and spider veins can ruin the smooth, youthful appearance of skin. Vascular surgeons sometimes perform sclerotherapy to relieve symptoms associated with diseased veins, such as aching, swelling, burning, and night cramps.
How Sclerotherapy Works
Vein doctors perform sclerotherapy by using a needle to inject a chemical agent, known as a sclerosant, which irritates the inner lining of the varicose vein or spider vein. The irritation causes the vein to scar and eventually close, so it no longer carries blood. The body reroutes blood to other veins. In time, the treated vein breaks apart and is absorbed by nearby tissue.
After Vein Treatment
You can get up and walk around immediately after sclerotherapy – in fact, your vein doctor will probably recommend that you walk and move as much as possible to reduce the risk for blood clots. You will need someone to drive you home, however.
You will need to wear compression stockings for about two weeks after the procedure. These stockings apply pressure to the veins in your legs to keep blood circulating. Avoid strenuous exercise for the first two weeks after surgery.
Treated veins fade within a few weeks, although it may take up to a month to realize the full results of the vein treatment. Multiple treatments are sometimes necessary, especially for very large or stubborn varicose veins. Vein surgeons typically suggest repeating treatment every four to six weeks.
Sclerotherapy is not appropriate for some patients. Doctors suggest that women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding wait to undergo the procedure, for example.
All surgical procedures, even minimally invasive ones like sclerotherapy, carry some risk for complications. The procedure is relatively safe and is associated with few complications. Possible side effects include red, raised patches or bruising at the injection site, which usually go away soon after treatment. Brown lines, spots, or groups of tiny blood vessels may develop near the treatment site; these too should disappear shortly after treatment. A lump of clotted blood may develop in a treated vein. While this is not dangerous, it does require the attention of your vein surgeon.
Your vein doctor can perform sclerotherapy at your local vein clinic. The procedure does not require anesthesia. Sclerotherapy usually takes less than an hour.
To learn if sclerotherapy is right for you, make an appointment with your local vein clinic. Your vein doctor can help you decide if this type of spider vein or varicose vein treatment is right for you.