Sclerotherapy

For a non-invasive treatment of small varicose veins and spider veins close the surface of the skin, sclerotherapy should be considered. Its purpose is to treat both the cosmetics of these veins and to relieve the aching, swelling, burning and night cramps that often accompany varicose veins. Most patients get an improved appearance of the legs. With over a 90 percent success rate, sclerotherapy is done in the doctor’s office and can take 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Although the treated veins do not come back, new ones may appear after several years. Heart and Vascular Care has been recognized for offering high quality outpatient vein treatment by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).

How does it work?

Sclerotherapy is the process of injecting a solution of hypertonic saline, glycerin, or foam into the veins to be treated. The solution creates scarring in the vein, causing it to close and diverting the blood to healthier veins. Once the vein has scarred, it collapses and is reabsorbed into the surrounding tissue. Foam sclerotherapy involves making small volumes of sodium tetradecyl sulphate into foam by rapid mixing and agitation with a small volume of air. This can then be used to treat some of the larger underlying abnormal veins which would not normally be treated with conventional sclerotherapy. Within a few weeks, the veins usually fade. For hard-to-treat veins, subsequent treatments may be necessary.

What does the procedure look like?

Prior to your treatment appointment, you doctor will perform an ultrasound to map out your veins, looking for problems and blood clots. At your appointment, your specialist will clean and disinfect the treatment area before inserting a fine needle into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution is then injected, causing the vein to swell and shut down. The needle is withdrawn, and the doctor will manually compress the treated area. You will need to wear a compression wrap or compression stockings home from the appointment.

What are the post-treatment restrictions?

After the treatment is complete, you will need to wear compression stockings for two weeks. Walking and moving around is recommended as it keeps the blood moving and encourages healing. Most people resume normal activities the same day as their treatment. You will need to avoid strenuous activity for two weeks, and you should avoid sun exposure for two weeks as that may produce dark spots.

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of sclerotherapy are generally temporary, wearing off within one months time. The most common side effect is seen at the injection site with some bruising. Some red bumps, sores or a darker line in the skin may also appear. These may take three to six weeks to resolve themselves. You may also have tiny, red blood vessels appear which will generally disappear in three to six weeks.

More serious side effects can include swelling at the injection site, blood clots forming within the treated vein and requiring drainage, and air bubbles getting into the bloodstream. Symptoms of air bubbles in the blood stream include visual problems, headaches, fainting and nausea. Generally, the air bubbles go away on their own.

How should you prepare for treatment?

If you and your doctor decide that sclerotherapy is right for you, you will need to have a physical exam prior to treatment. During this exam, your doctor will evaluate your veins, checking for any underlying blood vessel diseases, any heart conditions and any history of blood clots. No shaving can be done of the affected area for 24 hours prior to treat, and you won’t be able to wear any lotion on the day of treatment. You should wear loose clothing, and if the weather allows, shorts would be best.

To know whether sclerotherapy is right for you, speak with the specialists at Heart and Vascular Care. They have the training and understanding to know what treatment is best to remove your varicose veins and spider veins with the greatest chance of success.