What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a widely used non-surgical procedure that eliminates spider veins. Often used as an alternative to surgery, sclerotherapy can reduce or eliminate spider veins in one to six treatments, depending upon the extent of the problem and patient compliance following the procedure. It has been estimated that as many as 50%-80% of treated veins may be eliminated with each session of sclerotherapy.
Who is a good candidate for sclerotherapy?
Most adults who have visible spider veins or small varicose veins can be good candidates for sclerotherapy. The procedure can be safely and effectively performed on all skin tones. Sclerotherapy is often sought by adults between the ages of 30 and 60. However, age is typically not an obstacle in healthy patients who do not have a history of blood disorders. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not get sclerotherapy. Patients should also be able to follow the post-treatment care instructions, which involve wearing compression stockings to get the best results. Sclerotherapy cannot prevent the formation of new spider veins, but can reduce those that are present at the time of treatment.
What are the benefits of sclerotherapy?
The primary benefit of sclerotherapy is that treatment reduces or eliminates visible veins on the legs. This can increase confidence and satisfaction in one’s appearance. Another benefit of treatment is that it is minimally invasive and does not require general anesthesia. The entire procedure is often done in less than an hour, after which patients can return to most normal activities. Finally, sclerotherapy is a longstanding vein treatment with a high rate of success. Patients can feel confident that this quick, comfortable treatment will achieve good results.
Sclerotherapy should be performed under the supervision of a trained dermatologist. Using an ultra-fine needle, a solution will be injected directly into the targeted vein. During treatment, an FDA-approved sclerosing agent is injected into points of spider veins or small varicose veins. The medication causes minor irritation on the inside lining of the treated veins, and over the course of a few days, the veins close. Blood reroutes to nearby veins and the body absorbs those that have sealed. Gradually, the sealed veins disappear.
What results can sclerotherapy achieve?
This treatment has a proven track record of success. Often it involves a series of 2-3 treatments about 6 weeks apart and then a once per year maintenance treatment. Patients can expect smaller veins to fade over 3 to 6 weeks. Veins that fade away will not return. It may take 3-4 months for larger veins to get absorbed and disappear.
Is Sclerotherapy Painful?
Patients may experience mild discomfort and cramping for a couple of minutes as the solution is being injected. The sclerosing agent is intended to cause minor inflammation in the veins. This may be felt as a burning sensation, but is not described as painful. Some patients experience mild cramping during or shortly after their procedure.
How Long Does a Sclerotherapy Procedure Take?
The procedure usually takes between 15-30 minutes.
Is sclerotherapy safe?
Sclerotherapy is a vein technique that has been performed millions of times over many years. The chemical agents injected into veins have been thoroughly tested before FDA-approval and rarely cause adverse or allergic reactions. The most common risks of sclerotherapy are temporary bruising and swelling. More serious side effects are very rare.
Patients can resume normal daily activities immediately following the procedure. Walking is actually encouraged. Support hosiery will need to be worn to compress the treated vessels. While Tylenol can be taken if needed, it is important to avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications for at least 48 hours following treatment. Patients should also avoid taking hot baths, applying hot compresses or being in direct sunlight for at least 48 hours after treatment.
Side Effects of Sclerotherapy
There are certain side effects that patients may experience following sclerotherapy, including itching and raised, red areas around the injection site, which should subside within a few days. Bruising could also occur lasting several days or weeks. While allergic reactions are rarely serious, if you experience sudden swelling in the leg, the formation of ulcers around the injection site or inflammation within five inches of the groin, please contact our office immediately.