Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which unhealthy or unattractive leg veins are injected with a solution that acts on the vein wall, causing minor injury that leads to scarring and eventually the closing of the vessel.
Benefits of Sclerotherapy
This technique allows your doctor to reduce or even eliminate small to medium diseased veins with no long-term negative side effects and little risk of scarring.
Alternatives to Sclerotherapy
There are several treatment options. Dr. Bock will help you choose the best one based on the size and location of the affected veins. Sciton YAG laser therapy can also remove small to medium veins, and the larger ones can be treated with a procedure utilizing a cannula to deliver energy to the inside of the vein.
How Sclerotherapy Works
Sclerotherapy is a proven solution, which has been used for eight decades in the treatment of spider veins. It has an even longer history of use for varicose vein treatment.
A formula, called a sclerosing solution, is injected into the vein with a tiny needle. There are various types of sclerosant; Dr. Bock will recommend the best for your situation. All formulas work on the same principle, with ingredients designed to irritate the vascular wall. As a result of that irritation, the blood clots and the vein lining swells and sticks together. Following treatment, the vein gradually fades away until it becomes barely noticeable, or not visible at all.
Depending on the size and location of the veins, several may be treated in a single appointment. For smaller veins, one session may be all that is required. For larger veins, a follow-up treatment may be needed to optimize results.
Sometimes, you may only see fine spider veins but there are larger veins deeper beneath the surface. It is commonly believed that these larger diseased vessels should be treated when the visible spider veins are treated. Sclerotherapy can be used to treat both the visible surface veins and the deeper ones. In most cases, you will be advised to wear graduated compression stockings for two weeks after the surgery. This results in better outcomes with less residual pigmentation of the skin.
Although leg veins are sometime considered a purely cosmetic concern, they are frequently accompanied by medical symptoms, ranging from an itching or burning sensation to a dull throb or early fatigue. The larger a problematic vessel is, the more likely it is to cause discomfort. Even though blood passes through these veins, they are not essential for proper functioning of the circulatory system. The human body has an abundance of superficial vessels, and blood is naturally re-routed to healthy ones. If a vein is unattractive or it is causing discomfort, it can be safely treated with sclerotherapy, an injectable treatment that causes problematic vessels to shrink or disappear. The procedure is highly effective; approximately 50 to 90 percent of all patients enjoy significant improvement in the appearance of the treated veins. On occasion, a vein cannot be treated with sclerotherapy for technical reasons. In these instances, we typically use the Sciton Laser with excellent results.
Why Do Veins Sometimes Become Visible?
Women and men of any age can develop spider, reticular, or varicose veins. However, they are most common among females, and the risk increases with age. Causative factors include heredity, hormones, pregnancy, and occupations requiring an individual to sit or stand for extended periods of time. They can also develop following an injury, or due to restricted circulation caused by wearing tight girdles or hosiery held up with tight rubber bands.
What Can I Do to Prevent Spider Veins?
Unfortunately, they can’t always be prevented, although you can take steps to decrease your risk. The best preventive techniques include regularly exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and wearing support hose if necessary.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns
As with any medical treatment, there are potential side effects involved with sclerotherapy, even when it is performed by a highly trained, experienced physician such as Dr. Bock. They include:
- Pain or a stinging sensation at the injection site.
- Mild swelling in the feet or ankles.
- Raised, red areas may develop at the injection site, but they disappear within about 24 hours.
- Spots or brownish lines sometimes appear in areas where veins have been treated. It is believed that they are caused by the iron in blood, which may escape from a treated vein. In the majority of cases, they disappear within a year, although on occasion they can persist longer.
- When large vessels, particularly those on the thigh, are injected, a group of fine, visible red vessels may develop near the site. This occurs in about one out of three patients. Usually, they resolve on their own, but some may require injections or laser therapy. In rare cases, a few may remain.
- Small ulcers can develop in the injected areas. These usually heal nicely, but rarely, visible scarring occurs.
- You may notice some bruising at the injection site, which should disappear within a few weeks.
- Depending on the type of sclerosing solution used, an allergic reaction may be possible but it is extremely rare.
- Inflammation of treated blood vessels. This is relatively common when varicose veins are treated and usually no treatment is necessary.
- You may develop lumps in the treated veins, especially large vessels. This is a harmless accumulation of coagulated blood. Dr. Bock may drain these lumps a few weeks after treatment.
Brownish discoloration in the treatment area may last for several months, occasionally as long as a year.
Sclerotherapy Questions & Answers
There maybe instances that some vessels may not respond well to treatment, those that have been eliminated will not return. The development of new diseased veins in the same area may create the impression of recurrence; however, in all likelihood these new vessels would have appeared even if the others had not been treated.
When a series of appointments is scheduled, we may recommend that you wear compression stockings between treatments. This is especially helpful for individuals who spend a considerable amount of time standing.