Sclerotherapy is a treatment for the removal of spider veins and smaller varicose veins. Veins are injected with a sterile chemical sclerant, which irritates the vessel’s lining, making it become inflamed, harden, and eventually fade away completely.
How is the area treated?
The treatment area will be sterilized, then the doctor will begin injecting the sclerosant such as polidocanol (aethoxysklerol) or sodium tetradecyl sulfate into first the larger veins, then smaller ones, monitoring the progress of the chemical throughout the process. For every inch of vein treated, one injection will likely be administered. Since the injection needle is so small, patients often feel little pain and do not need any anesthesia. The injection process typically is complete in just 15 to 30 minutes. A minor stinging or burning sensation is common during and right after the injections are made, but is short lived. After the treatment is finished, a bandage will be applied and the use of compression or support hose is recommended for at least 2 weeks or longer.
What are the Side Effects?
Because the procedure is minimally-invasive, very few side effects are associated with it. Some minor itching and burning immediately after the treatment is normal and quickly fades. In rare cases, allergic reactions, infection at the injection site, or complications associated with poor injection technique are possible. The potential for side effects can be reduced by choosing an experienced, reputable specialist to administer the procedure.
How many sessions do I need?
The number of sessions required depends on the depth, number, and size of the veins being treated. While some patients are happy with the results after just one treatment, others may desire further injections for the optimal effect. These follow up treatments should be spaced at least four weeks apart so that the effects of the previous treatment can be accurately evaluated before injecting more.
Which veins work best for sclerotherapy?
Small to medium sized veins respond best to sclerotherapy procedures. There are many other techniques available for the effective treatment of larger vein problems, which you can discuss with your practitioner.
Who is a candidate?
Nearly everyone with unsightly spider veins is eligible for treatment, unless they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, individuals with skin infections, uncontrolled diabetes, a history of deep vein thrombosis, and those who are taking anticoagulants or corticosteroids should not have sclerotherapy. If you are unsure of your candidacy, consult a specialist for a personal evaluation.