What is sclerotherapy?
To treat spider veins and varicose veins, we use sclerotherapy. This procedure is non-surgical, can be performed right in our office, and requires no general anesthesia. Discomfort is minimal and momentary, a feeling that has been compared to an insect bite at the point of injection.
Immediately after treatment, patients can return to most of their usual activities, although strenuous exercise should be avoided. Some slight and temporary swelling or bruising may occur along the vessel. The spider veins and varicose veins will fade over the course of several weeks after treatment. Following the instructions given after injections are very important for the maximum success of the treatment.
What can I expect from sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy requires several treatment sessions, depending on your individual needs. The first consultation is approximately 1 hour, and each subsequent session takes about 30 minutes and involves from 5 to 40 injections, according to the size and number of veins. Most patients find the injections minimally uncomfortable–like a pin prick. Bruising is normal and will fade in 2-3 weeks. There is no need for time off work and moderate exercise is encouraged following treatment.
Occasionally, a brownish pigmentation may develop in the skin overlying a treated vein. This gradually fades over a period of several months, but in unusual instances, some discolouration remains. There are several rare but potentially serious complications. As with the use of any medication, allergic reactions can occur, ranging from a slight rash or itch to a severe systemic reaction *. Risks will be explained during your informed consent prior to the procedure.
What does sclerotherapy treat?
Sclerotherapy is used to treat spider veins and varicose vein on legs.
Sclerotherapy treatment process
At your first visit, you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about your problem and your general health history. Following this, the nurse will review your medical history with you and obtain your blood pressure and leg measurements. A colour flow duplex ultrasound assessment may be arranged to provide a detailed map of your venous function and anatomy. Finally, the diagnosis of your problem will be reviewed with you and your treatment plan will be discussed.
To do this procedure, we inject a product called sclerodex into the spider or small varicose vein. Immediately following the injections, the patient wears compression stockings that compress these tiny veins. The sclerodex acts as a vein irritant, and with the compression stockings the vein stays collapsed and permanently closes. It can no longer fill with blood, and thus is no longer seen. Circulation will, in many cases, be improved. Blood flow simply reroutes to normal, healthy veins after the spider veins or varicose veins have collapsed.
Before and after care:
- Avoid aspirin for 1 week to reduce bruising
- Do not wax or shave your legs the day of treatment
- Avoid using skin lotion prior to treatment (tape will not stick)
- Remember to bring your compression stockings
- Re-schedule if ill with fever
- Must avoid injections for 2-week period prior to extended or air vacation or travel.
- Eat regular meals to prevent feeling faint
- Wear support hose (or tensor) for 5 to 7 days
- Walk for 10 minutes immediately following the injections
- Walk or exercise regularly between treatments, but avoid high-impact exercise, straining or weight lifting for days
- Elevate your legs for 10 minutes following the injections before getting off the treatment table
- If legs are uncomfortable, walk for 20 minutes, then elevate
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.
- Avoid sun tanning and hot baths or showers in the week after treatment
- Apply ice to lumpy, healing veins if tender
- If you have concerns, including pain, swelling, rash or hives, call the office
Risks and side effects
Most patients report some mild, temporary redness in the treated area shortly after the procedure. This does not interfere with normal activities and usually subsides within a day. Pigmented lesions will darken slightly after treatment and then fade over the course of 10 to 14 days. Visible veins generally turn white or grey, then fade away within about 10 to 14 days.