Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive technique used in the treatment of spider veins. In most cases, abnormal veins are caused by a weakness in the vein wall that allows the vein to stretch out and enlarge. Frequently this tendency is inherited and cannot be prevented. Other risk factors include prolonged sitting or standing, pregnancy, and weight gain, all of which contribute to the deterioration of these abnormal veins in susceptible individuals. Usually sclerotherapy treatment is reserved for spider or reticular veins that are too small to be removed surgically. The unsightly veins are injected, causing them to heal shut and disappear over time. Sclerotherapy can take 45 minutes to one hour.
Who should have sclerotherapy?
Many people with spider and varicose veins can be treated with sclerotherapy. To find out whether sclerotherapy might help in your case, call us to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians.
How is sclerotherapy performed?
A very fine needle is used to inject a special medicine (a sclerosant) directly into the veins. This solution causes the abnormal vein to close. This vein is then gradually absorbed by the body. During the procedure, the amount of pain you experience will depend on the size of the needle and the type of solution used. We use the smallest needle possible to achieve the results desired. Sclerotherapy is relatively painless, although the solution can cause some burning or cramping for several minutes after it is injected. To ease the discomfort, our physicians mix a local anesthetic with the solution.
How does the sclerosant solution work?
The sclerosant is medication that intentionally causes damage to the inner wall of the vein. The damage done to the treated vein wall will initiate a healing process that causes the vein to shut over time. The extent of the damage is controlled by the concentration of the solution used. Your doctor will assess your condition and choose the concentration best suited to your veins.
How do I prepare for sclerotherapy treatment?
You may be asked to stop taking certain medications. Make sure your doctor knows about all medicines you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs and herbal and dietary supplements. You may be asked to avoid blood-thinning anti-inflammatory medications. These include drugs such as Advil, Motrin, and Naproxin Sodium. Lotion should not be applied to the legs prior to sclerotherapy treatment.
What can I expect after treatment?
It is important to realize that results will not be seen immediately, but a considerable improvement is very likely. Following the treatment, to achieve the best results, compression must be applied to the legs to cause the vein walls to stick together. Compression bandages or medical-grade graduated support stockings are used during the healing process to accomplish this. Treatment of spider veins is most effective when done gradually over several appointments.
What are risks and side effects of sclerotherapy?
As with any medical treatment, there are certain risks and side effects associated with sclerotherapy. It is possible for a patient to experience an allergic reaction to the sclerosant solution. Allergic reactions are rare and fairly mild when they do occur. It is common and very probable that your legs will look worse before they look better. Very rarely, blisters, scabs, scars, darkened skin pigmentation, and ulcers can occur after treatment for spider veins. Individuals who smoke or who have an underlying disease may have an increased risk of developing any of these symptoms. Darker skin types are also more likely to have abnormal skin pigmentation after a sclerotherapy treatment.
Will insurance cover sclerotherapy treatment?
Insurance companies generally consider the treatment of spider veins to be cosmetic and not a covered benefit. Occasionally, if an area of spider veins is symptomatic, some insurance companies will authorize treatment of the symptomatic area, but will not cover full sclerotherapy treatment for both legs.
Sclerotherapy improves the appearance and relieves symptoms due to small varicose veins and spider veins in most patients. Approx. 45-60 minutes.
- We recommend you wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your sclerotherapy appointment. You will not need to change if your physician is able to access the affected veins easily.
- Upon arrival, you will be taken to a private exam room. Via Vascular staff will be available to answer any questions at this time.
- A member of the Via Vascular staff will then wash the affected areas with a sterilizing solution.
- Next, your physician injects a chemical medication to seal off damaged veins. This detours the blood to other veins nearby. Sealed veins then collapse and are slowly reabsorbed by the body, making surface veins no longer visible.
- The amount of pain you experience during and after treatment will depend on the size of the needle and the type of solution used. We use the smallest needle possible to achieve the results desired. Sclerotherapy is relatively painless, although the solution can cause some burning or cramping for several minutes after it is injected. To ease potential discomfort, our physicians mix a local anesthetic with the injected medication.
- Following the treatment, the veins in the leg must be supported to promote proper healing. Compression bandages or graduated support stockings are used.
You may need anywhere from one to several treatments depending upon the type and number of veins being treated.
Follow-up Visits: Follow up visits may be scheduled after any treatment as needed.