Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure that involves injecting a medication into the vein. This solution causes the walls of the veins to stick together, preventing the blood from pooling in the vein and thus forcing the blood flow from the dysfunctional vein to veins that are functioning efficiently.
Why choose sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy alone can be effective for spider veins and many varicose veins. In many cases with the larger varicose veins a recommendation will be to ligate, (tie off) excise or remove the larger veins. This procedure, performed by a surgeon, enhances the effect of sclerotherapy.
Again, this is a simple office procedure which we will discuss and can arrange, should it be needed.
What you should know about sclerotherapy
The procedure is typically performed in the doctor’s office. It does not require anesthesia and usually takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete depending on the extent of the veins.
Patients lie on their back with their legs slightly elevated. After the treatment area is cleansed with alcohol, the doctor uses a fine needle to slowly insert the medication into the vein. Some patients experience minor stinging when the needle is inserted. The injection irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell shut and block the flow of blood.
Once the needle is withdrawn, the doctor will apply compression and massage the area to keep blood out of the injected vessel and disperse the solution. For large veins, a compression pad may be taped onto the site to keep the area compressed while your doctor moves on to the next vein. The number of injections depends on the number and size of veins being treated.
As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it,
- Raised red areas
- Darkened skin in the form of lines or spots
- Multiple tiny red blood vessels
More severe complications rarely occur, such as inflammation, blood clots, or allergic reaction to treatment solutions.
How to prepare for the procedure
Before the procedure, our office will review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. The doctor will examine the veins to be treated and check for any underlying blood vessel disorders. Be sure to let your doctor know:
- If you are pregnant. Most doctors recommend waiting until after your delivery to perform the procedure.
- If you have any medical conditions, such as heart disease or pre-existing cancer or coagulation disorder.
- About any prescription or over-the-counter medicine, you are taking as well as any supplements.
- If you smoke or take oral contraceptives, which can increase your risk of blood clots.
- If you have any allergies.
What to expect after the procedure
- You can stand up and walk around immediately after the procedure. It’s important to move your legs to prevent the formation of blood clots and maximize treatment results.
- Graduated compression stockings and/or bandages are worn over the treatment area for one week to maintain pressure on the treated veins.
- Most people can return to normal activities immediately following the procedure.
- You should avoid sun exposure in the treatment area for two weeks following the procedure