Among treatments for spider and varicose veins, sclerotherapy has remained popular for decades. Vein doctors continue to recommend this procedure to address medical and cosmetic concerns by eliminating these unwanted blood vessels.
Why Vascular Surgeons Advise This Procedure
This technique stands somewhere in the middle of types of vascular treatment. It remains the primary treatment for spider veins and is also a varicose vein treatment under certain circumstances.
On the one end of the spectrum are conservative treatments such as losing weight and wearing compression stockings. At the other end is vein surgery. The use of sclerosing agents falls between these two. According the Mayo Clinic, it represents a fairly safe procedure with few complications.
Since vascular surgeons administer this treatment at a vein clinic on an outpatient basis, the procedure is much more convenient for patients than surgery is. Compared to vein surgery, it is a minimally invasive option.
Injections used solve both cosmetic and health problems. They improve a patient’s appearance by getting rid of spider and varicose veins. They can also reduce symptoms like swelling, burning, aching, and cramping. The procedure might be done alone or in combination with other treatments.
The University of Wisconsin Health indicates that the most common reasons why doctors recommend this procedure include:
- Spider veins or small varicose veins not causing serious problems
- Small varicose veins that return after vein stripping
- Some larger varicose veins
At an initial consultation, a vein doctor will determine whether a patient is a good candidate for use of a sclerosant. Among issues that disqualify an individual are pregnancy or recent delivery.
How This Vein Treatment Works
Vein doctors perform this procedure using a very fine needle to inject a special substance known as a sclerosant or sclerosing agent into a targeted vein. Sclerosants are either liquids or foam. Many practitioners today use a technique that combines ultrasound to locate deeper problem veins with sclerosants injected by catheters, usually when problem vessels are in the legs.
The University of Wisconsin Health reports that injecting the sclerosant into each targeted vein takes between 5 and 30 minutes. The time required depends on how many blood vessels need treatment and how large they are.
The sclerosing agent irritates the walls of the vein, causing them to stick to each other. Eventually, the vessel closes off and is no longer visible. Healthy nearby veins assume the workload of the eliminated vessel.
After treatment, patients wear compression stockings for a specified period. The procedure works well for around 80 percent of those who undergo it. Sometimes patients require multiple sessions to achieve desired results.
It is important for individuals considering this option to realize that no treatment for spider or varicose veins can prevent new vessels from forming. Because of this, many patients return periodically for additional treatment.