VEIN THERAPY 

Sclerotherapy effectively treats varicose and spider veins. It's often considered the treatment of choice for small varicose veins.

Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.

After sclerotherapy, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take a month or more to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.

Why it's done

  • Varicose veins

Sclerotherapy is often done for:

  • Cosmetic purposes — to improve the appearance of varicose and spider veins

The procedure can also improve related symptoms such as:

  • Aching

  • Swelling

  • Burning

  • Night cramps

If you're pregnant or breast-feeding, doctors recommend waiting to have sclerotherapy done.

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Procedure

Sclerotherapy does not require anesthesia. The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes, but the exact length of time depends on the size of the area and the number of veins being treated.

Depending on its size, a single vein may have to be injected more than once. Treatment must be performed weeks or months apart. Multiple veins may be injected during one treatment session.

During the procedure, you'll lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated. Your doctor will cleanse the area to be treated before inserting a solution into the targeted vein with a fine needle. The solution causes the vein walls to swell, stick together and seal shut, stopping the flow of blood. As a result, the vein fades within a few weeks.

You may experience some minor stinging or cramps when the needle is inserted into the vein. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any discomfort.

After the injections, your doctor will apply compression and massage the treated area to keep blood out of the injected vein and disperse the solution. A compression pad may be taped onto the injection site to keep the area compressed.

Recovery

After the procedure, it is important to walk around to prevent formation of blood clots in your legs. Most people return to their normal activities on the same day.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow for recovery, including:

  • Avoid sun exposure to the treated areas for two weeks after the procedure. The inflammation caused by the injections combined with sun exposure can lead to dark spots on your skin, especially if you already have a dark skin tone.

  • Wear compression stockings to maintain compression on the treated veins.

Side Effects

Sclerotherapy is a simple and typically safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, it does carry some risk and may cause side effects.

Temporary side effects that may occur at the injection site include:

  • Stinging or pain at the sites of injection

  • Swelling of the ankles or feet, or muscle cramps

These side effects usually occur when hypertonic saline solution is used.

  • Red, raised areas at the injection sites

These are similar to hives, and should disappear within a day or so.

  • Brown lines or spots on the skin at the injection sites

Darkened areas may result when blood escapes from treated veins. They are probably formed from iron in the blood. These dark areas occur more often in patients who have larger veins or patients who tan easily. In most cases they disappear within a year, but they may last longer.

  • Groups of fine red blood vessels near the injection sites of larger vessels

About one-third of patients develop groups of vessels, especially on the thighs. Most disappear by themselves, some need additional injection treatments or laser therapy, and a few vessels may not disappear with treatment.

  • Small, painful ulcers at treatment sites, which may develop immediately following treatment or after a few days

These occur when some of the solution escapes into the surrounding skin or enters a small artery at the treatment site. They can be successfully treated, but it is important to tell your dermatologist immediately if they develop.

  • Temporary bruises

Bruises usually occur after laser treatments and are probably related to the thinness of blood vessel walls. They usually disappear in a few weeks. Occasionally, bruising occurs after sclerotherapy.

  • Allergic reactions to sclerosing solutions

Lumps are caused by coagulated blood. They are not dangerous and may be drained by your dermatologist a few weeks after injection.

  • Burning with discoloration of the skin

Cost

  • $350 per session