When you have unsightly varicose veins or spider veins, you might think it’s a problem you just have to live with if at-home remedies haven’t improved anything and surgery seems too extreme. This is not the case. Sclerotherapy is one option for a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that can greatly reduce or eliminate problem veins.
Who Can Benefit?
Varicose veins and spider veins are a common problem that affects most adults by age 60, although they can also affect those much younger. Both conditions are caused by weak vein walls and the failure of valves inside the vein that keep blood from flowing backward—in larger veins, blood pooling behind these faulty valves results in swollen, lumpy varicose veins, and in smaller ones, the fine red, blue, or purple branching of spider veins.
Varicose and spider veins most commonly develop in the legs, and for some people cause no problems beyond their unpleasant appearance. However, others may experience pain, a feeling of soreness or heaviness, patchy or dry skin, or a rash near the affected veins. More seriously, varicose veins may increase the risk of developing blood clots. Whether you want to treat your veins for cosmetic reasons or to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, sclerotherapy can be a good option.
What Is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure in which a solution is injected directly into the vein to irritate the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to collapse. The blood in the vein clots, turning first to scar tissue and then gradually being reabsorbed by the body. This treats both the appearance of the vein and any associated symptoms, by eliminating the root cause of both problems.
Why Choose Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy has key benefits recommending it as an effective treatment option.
It’s a short outpatient procedure: A session of sclerotherapy takes only 15 to 30 minutes in your doctor’s office.
It doesn’t require anesthesia: The procedure consists of a simple injection with a small needle. You will not need heavy numbing or anesthesia.
It doesn’t require major restrictions to activity: Although you should avoid strenuous activities immediately after treatment, you can return to your regular daily activities right away.
It’s highly effective: Studies have shown that each session of sclerotherapy can eliminate 50 to 80% of injected veins, and the treatment is effective for 90% of patients who try it.
It’s low risk with generally mild side effects: Most patients experience only mild side effects after treatment, such as itching or redness at the injection site for a day or two, or minor bruising.
If You’re Considering Sclerotherapy
Prior to treatment, you’ll have a consultation with a vein specialist to examine if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Sclerotherapy is not appropriate for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, but you can have it if you are taking oral birth control. If you’ve had blood clots in the past, your provider will need to know the cause and severity of the clot to determine if you’re eligible for sclerotherapy.
When your procedure is scheduled, you’ll receive information on how to prepare, including medications to avoid in the days before treatment, and what aftercare steps you should take in the days following. For example, certain antibiotics, prednisone, and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin should not be taken in conjunction with sclerotherapy, and patients should avoid applying heat to the affected area (no hot compresses or baths) or exposing it to direct sunlight for two days afterward. Completely eliminating large or extensive varicose or spider veins may require multiple treatments.
Whether you know you want to pursue medical treatment for your varicose or spider veins, or you’d simply like to know your options, contact our experts at the Vein & Fibroid Treatment Center for a free screening. Our comprehensive X-ray and intravascular ultrasound technology allows us to diagnose and treat a wide range of vein problems, and we specialize in minimally invasive treatments that improve quality of life without surgery. To learn more about sclerotherapy or to book an appointment, contact us here.