What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is the most popular treatment for spider and varicose veins.
Minimally invasive and safe, sclerotherapy involves the injection of a sclerosant solution (saline or foam) directly into diseased veins. The solution irritates the lining of the vein wall, causing a small clot to form that stops the blood flow in the diseased vein.
Eventually, the vein disintegrates and is absorbed by the body, redirecting blood flow to nearby, healthy veins. This procedure helps to diminish the appearance of unsightly varicose and spider veins
Sclerotherapy may reduce pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins, such as itching, cramping, pain, and discoloration.
Treatment time can range anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour.
What Area On the Body Is Treated by Sclerotherapy?
Varicose veins are most common on your legs and feet. The veins can be bulging, raised, swollen, discolored and may appear to be twisted just beneath the surface of the skin.
Spider veins, on the other hand, are much smaller in size and sit closer to the surface of the skin and typically appear to be red, blue, or purple.
When determining whether sclerotherapy is appropriate for you, the size of the damaged veins is taken into consideration; however, sclerotherapy is used to treat spider veins and varicose veins in several areas:
- Face (typically along the side of the nose)
- Anus (hemorrhoid treatment)
Risks Associated with Sclerotherapy
As with all medical procedures that involve penetrating the skin, there are potential risks. The more serious side effects associated with sclerotherapy may include:
- Allergic reaction to the sclerosant
- Mild headache
- Ulceration of skin surrounding injection site
- Development of new, small blood vessels near the site of treatment. These may appear days to weeks after treatment but resolve on their own without treatment within 3 to 12 months.
- Mild inflammation or bruising that can create tenderness at the injection site
- Brown spots or lines may appear at the injection site, but will typically go away within 3 to 5 months.
- Rarely, blood clots can form in the vein that will require removal
Frequently Asked Questions About Sclerotherapy
How is sclerotherapy performed?
Before your procedure, you will be evaluated by your doctor to determine the severity of your condition and will pinpoint the location of the damaged veins. Should the vein be located deep beneath the surface of your skin, an ultrasound will be used to guide your doctor throughout the procedure.
Treatment will begin with cleaning the skin around the diseased veins. Using a small needle, your doctor will inject a sclerosing agent (liquid or foam) directly into the diseased vein.
The solution irritates the lining of the vein walls, causing a small blood clot to form, shutting off blood flow in the vein and redirecting blood flow to healthy veins nearby. Your body will naturally, over time, absorb the damaged vein, dissipating visibility, and discomfort.
The size of the veins will determine the number of treatments you may need. On average, four treatments are required to achieve the desired results.
What to expect after sclerotherapy treatment?
Compression socks are often recommended in the first 24 hours after the procedure. After 24 hours, you may be advised to keep compression socks on throughout the day, but may remove them while sleeping at night.
You will be instructed to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs for at least 48 hours and to use Tylenol for pain as needed.
Also, your doctor may advise that you avoid hot baths, saunas, swimming pools, the beach, and the sun for the first 48 hours post-treatment.
Staying active, however, helps reduce the chance of developing blood clots. Simply walking, while avoiding strenuous activity, will likely be recommended by your doctor.
Overall, recovery is rather quick and involves little to no downtime. Most patients report being able to return to their normal activities immediately or shortly after their treatment.
How effective is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is most effective for smaller varicose veins and spider veins that are causing uncomfortable symptoms. Depending on the size, number, and severity of your condition, several sessions may be needed to achieve the desired results.
Some of the benefits associated with sclerotherapy include:
- Limited discomfort
- Improved blood flow
- Relief from swelling and pain
- Reduced recovery time
Am I A Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
If you suffer from large varicose veins, sclerotherapy may not be the right treatment for you. Speak with your doctor about individual treatment plans that may be more comprehensive.
Also, you are not able to undergo sclerotherapy if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or bedridden. For women who have recently had a baby, you will have to wait 3 months before you can undergo this procedure.
What are the side effects of sclerotherapy?
During the procedure, patients may feel minor stinging, burning, or cramping as the sclerosant is injected into the vein. Additional pain may arise should the sclerosing agent leak into tissue surrounding the vein.
The most common side effects reported include:
- Skin discoloration
- Tenderness or discomfort
- Raised, red areas around the injection site
Most of the side effects listed above disappear in a few short days after treatment.
What is the cost of sclerotherapy?
The average cost of a single procedure is approximately $370. Keep in mind, the overall cost will depend on the number, size, and severity of the veins being treated. Medical treatment cost also varies by geographic location.
If sclerotherapy is being performed to treat a diagnosed medical condition, such as vein disease or to relieve medical symptoms related to varicose veins, your insurance will likely cover a portion, if not all, of the procedure.
However, insurance typically will not cover cosmetic sclerotherapy.
Regardless, sclerotherapy is a popular, safe and effective way to treat varicose and spider veins. Schedule a consultation with our specialists and to find out if sclerotherapy is the right for you!