Sclerotherapy is a procedure used to treat varicose veins and spider veins. This procedure involves the injection of a solution, known as a sclerosant, directly into the vein. The sclerosant irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to close. Eventually, the vein turns into scar tissue and is absorbed by the body.
Sclerotherapy is more than a cosmetic procedure, since varicose veins can cause many medical problems, such as blood clots, skin breakdown, and ulceration. Sclerotherapy has a success rate of approximately 90%.
How It Works
The sclerosant that is injected into the vein is a chemical irritant. A very fine needle is used to inject the sclerosant. When injection is received, individuals may experience some mild cramping and discomfort, particularly when larger veins are injected.
Each sclerotherapy treatment session lasts around 15 to 20 minutes. Approximately 30 to 40 veins can be treated per session, and as many as 50 to 80% of the injected veins are eliminated with each session.
On average, patients need two to six sclerotherapy treatments in order to achieve optimal results. With spider veins, it takes three to six weeks after each treatment to see results, while with larger veins, it can take up to three to four months to see results. The veins that respond to treatment will not reappear, but it is possible that new veins will appear in the same area over time.
How to Prepare for the Procedure
To prepare for sclerotherapy treatment, avoid taking certain medications. Antibiotics such as tetracycline and minocin should be avoided for seven to ten days before and after the procedure. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided for 48 hours before and after the procedure. During initial consultations at Innovative Vein, patients are asked to inform Dr. Cheatum about all current medications.
If patients have previously received sclerotherapy treatment and have compression stockings left over from a previous occasion, those stockings should be brought to the initial appointment so staff can check to ensure the stockings provide adequate compression. In addition, lotion should not be applied to your legs on the day of treatment.
Following the Procedure
After the procedure, patients will be able to drive yourself home and resume normal activities immediately. When in a resting position, patients are asked to elevate legs above the level of the heart, using pillows or a foam wedge.
For 48 hours post-treatment, patients should avoid sitting in a hot bath or sauna and should not apply heat compresses to the injection sites. Direct exposure to sunlight and high-impact aerobic activities should be avoided.
Mild side effects that you may experience after sclerotherapy include itching, burning, and red, raised areas. These symptoms will go away within a few days of treatment. Bruising may also occur, but it will resolve within several days or weeks.
After sclerotherapy, large veins may become lumpy and hard. It can take several months for the hardness and lumpiness to dissolve and fade. You may also notice the development of new, tiny blood vessels (neovascularization) or brown lines/spots, but they should fade in 3 to 12 months.