Sclerotherapy is considered the “gold standard” in treating spider veins and small to medium sized varicose veins. The procedure involves the injection of a sclerosing solution into the targeted veins, which eventually swell shut and heal into scar tissue. There are several types of sclerotherapy including microsclerotherapy, ultrasound sclerotherapy and foam sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy: An Overview
How It Works: Veins are exposed to a sclerosing agent, which causes the lining of the vein to become irritated, inflamed, hardened, and eventually to fade. The varicose veins and spider veins treated with sclerotherapy are considered superficial veins, therefore the blood flow is redirected when they die off.
What It Treats: Sclerotherapy can be used to treat small to medium spider veins and varicose veins.
Pros: The procedure is simple, minimally invasive and relatively painless. It can be performed quickly and recovery is easy.
Cons: Does not prevent veins from becoming varicose or address underlying causes of the development of varicose and spider veins. Multiple treatments are usually required.
Alternatives: Laser therapy, light therapy, ablation, phlebectomy.
Type of Procedure: Minimally invasive, non-surgical. The procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office (usually in 15-45 minutes) and does not require the use of anesthesia.
Recovery Process: Recovery is immediate. The use of compression stockings aids recovery, however individuals are able to drive and resume normal activities upon completion of the sclerotherapy treatment.
Results: For the vast majority, sclerotherapy will eliminate 50 to 80 percent of treated veins. Smaller veins respond best and two to four treatments are typically needed to achieve the maximum result. For a small percentage of people sclerotherapy is ineffective.
Side Effects: Blood clots, skin injury, severe inflammation, and allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent are potential, but rare, side effects of sclerotherapy.
Cost/Insurance: Consult your health care practitioner and insurance provider to verify cost and coverage of any vein treatments.
Consult Your Doctor: You should bring any documents necessary to give your doctor an accurate medical history, including recent illnesses and any allergies that you have. Make a list of the medications and supplements that you are currently taking as well as the symptoms that you are feeling. Write down any questions that you have ahead of time and bring them with you. Make sure you understand your doctor’s answers.
Your doctor will examine your legs checking for signs of any underlying conditions. He or she may or may not use an ultrasound for this. If there are any underlying conditions, they should be treated before or at the same time as the visible problems. If not, the problems will recur. Write down any instructions your doctor gives you regarding restrictions before the procedure.