Sclerotherapy involves the direct injection of a sclerosing agent into the spider vein or reticular vein using a very fine needle. This chemical solution irritates the vein tissue, causing the lining of the vein to swell, harden and eventually seal off.
Before treatment, a complete medical history is taken and a thorough medical examination is conducted. This is done to determine how long the problem has existed, the severity of the symptoms, and whether or not the condition is affected by physical activity. It is also done to see if you have undergone prior surgery or other vein therapy. At the time of consultation, the physician assesses if your superficial system may be affected. If so, she may recommend you have a diagnostic duplex undergoing sclerotherapy.
The benefits to sclerotherapy for spider veins include:
* Gets rid of unsightly veins
* Doesn’t interfere with normal daily activities
* Safe, virtually painless, in-office treatment
* Relief of symptoms
Patients who have had sclerotherapy have reported little discomfort. Some experience a slight to moderate burning sensation immediately after the injection, but this disappears within a few seconds. Compression stockings will be placed after sclerotherapy treatment is completed.
Sclerotherapy patients are generally advised to return to normal daily activity immediately following the procedure. Vigorous physical activity is discouraged for 24 hours, however. Walking right away after sclerotherapy is encouraged because it increases bloodflow through the remaining healthy veins that bring blood back toward the heart. Elevating your legs usually isn’t recommended.
Most patients experience no adverse effects from sclerotherapy, but some minor side effects have been reported. These include slight blistering that occurs when small amounts of the injected solution seep into the surrounding areas. This usually goes away with time.
Bruising around the treated area can result if the veins are unusually weak but eventually disappears. Fair-skinned people tend to bruise more than dark-skinned people. Clots sometimes develop at the site of the injection. Although not a major cause for concern, it may be necessary to remove these clots to better allow the healing process to progress normally.
A small percentage of patients develop a network of tiny pink vessels that turn white when pressure is applied. This condition, referred to as “matte telangiectasia,” usually disappears without treatment. But sometimes injection treatment is needed. Occasionally, patients have allergic reactions to the injected solution.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a procedure during which a physician uses a syringe with a very fine needle to inject a small amount of solution (a sclerosing agent) directly into the vein. After injection, a compression stocking is applied to aid in the healing process.
Which veins can be injected?
Spider veins, reticular veins and moderately sized varicose veins can be injected with the sclerosing agent.
Is the injection procedure painful?
It’s usually painless because the solution injected isn’t very concentrated. Still, you may feel a slight stinging or burning sensation as it’s injected.
What are the potential complications of the procedure?
Though rare, complications of sclerotherapy include:
* Allergy from the sclerosing agent.
* Ulceration. This will eventually heal, leaving a small scar.
* Deep vein thrombosis. The risk is very low, but it occasionally follows sclerotherapy of larger varicose veins. Deep vein thrombosis is more likely in patients predisposed to blood clotting through inherited thrombophilia. Lack of exercise, air travel, recent surgery and other factors increase the possibility of this condition.
* Staining or brown pigmentation at the site treated or along the vein path. In most cases, this goes away naturally but may take several months.
* Clots within the treated veins. These aren’t dangerous but can feel quite tender in larger veins. Clots can be removed using a needle, but left alone they’ll eventually be absorbed by the body.
* Temporary bruising at the injection sites. This is quite common but goes away within a week or so.
Will I have any bandages or elastic wraps after injection?
Compression stockings will be applied to the treated leg. This is worn for 36 hours then during the day for 5 days post procedure.
Will my spider veins disappear with the first treatment?
Not usually. The spider veins appearance will improve with each treatment, but it is unrealistic to expect them to disappear with the first treatment.
Will my insurance cover sclerotherapy?
Each insurance company is different. We recommend that you check with your insurance agent to determine coverage. Insurance companies do not pay for sclerotherapy for spider veins. It is considered a cosmetic procedure. If you require ultrasound guided sclerotherapy for venous insufficiency many providers will cover the treatment.
Before & After