Sclerotherapy is a highly effective treatment for leg veins, including spider veins and larger blue or purple veins called varicose veins.
Spider veins – known in the medical world as telangiectasia or sunburst varicosities – are small, thin veins that lie close to the surface of the skin. Although these super-fine veins are connected with the larger venous system, they are not an essential part of it.
A number of factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy and other events that cause hormonal shifts, weight gain, occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and the use of certain medications.
Spider veins usually take on one of three basic patterns. They may appear in a true spider shape with a group of veins radiating outward from a dark central point, they may be arborizing and will resemble tiny branch-like shapes or, they may be simple linear and appear as thin separate lines. Linear spider veins are commonly seen on the inner knee, whereas the arborizing pattern often appears on the outer thigh in a sunburst or cartwheel distribution.
Varicose veins differ from spider veins in a number of ways. Varicose veins are larger – usually more than a quarter-inch in diameter, darker in color and tend to bulge. Varicose veins are also more likely to cause pain and be related to more serious vein disorders. For some patients, sclerotherapy can be used to treat varicose veins. However, often surgical treatment is necessary for this condition.
How does it work?
In this rather simple procedure, veins are injected with a sclerosing solution, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. Sclerotherapy can enhance your appearance and your self confidence, but it’s unrealistic to believe that every affected vein will disappear completely as a result of treatment. After each sclerotherapy session, the veins will appear lighter. After the sclerotherapy procedure we will be doing another procedure called Carboxy Therapy. This will help insure greater results and help the quality of the skin. Two or more sessions of the combination Carboxy and sclerotherapy are usually required to achieve optimal results.
Who can use this treatment?
Women of any age may be good candidates for sclerotherapy, but most fall in the 30-to-60 category. In some women, spider veins may become noticeable very early on – in the teen years. For others, the veins may not become obvious until they reach their 40s.
Who should not use this treatment?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may be advised to postpone sclerotherapy treatment. In most cases, spider veins that surface during pregnancy will disappear on their own within three months after the baby is born. Also, because it’s not known how sclerosing solutions may affect breast milk, nursing mothers are usually advised to wait until after they have stopped breastfeeding.
You will receive more specific instructions from your clinician on how to prepare for your treatment. After your consultation, carefully read and follow these instructions will help the procedure go more smoothly.
You’ll be instructed not to apply any type of moisturizer, sun block, or oil to your legs on the day of your procedure. You may want to bring shorts to wear during the injections, as well as your physician-prescribed support hose, and slacks to wear home.
When scheduling your procedure, keep in mind that your legs may be bruised or slightly discolored for some weeks afterward. You probably won’t be comfortable wearing shorts, a swimsuit, or a mini skirt until after your legs have cleared up a bit.
Please pick up a pair of medium grade graduation compression hose and bring them with you to your visit. Most pharmacies carry these.
Please bring a pair of shorts with you on each visit, and walk around for about 15 minutes as well. This will help us see the veins better.
A typical sclerotherapy session is relatively quick, lasting only about 30 to 45 minutes. After changing into shorts, your legs may be photographed for your medical records. You will be asked to lie down on the examination table and the skin over your spider veins will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Using one hand to stretch the skin taut, your doctor or nurse will begin injecting the sclerosing agent into the affected veins. Bright, indirect light and magnification may be used to help ensure that the process is completed with maximum precision.
Approximately one injection is administered for every inch of spider vein – anywhere from five to 15 injections per treatment session. A cotton ball and compression tape is applied to each area of the leg as it is finished.
During the procedure, you may listen to music, read, or just talk to your practitioner. You will be asked to shift positions a few times during the process. As the procedure continues, you will feel small needle sticks and possibly a mild burning sensation. However, the needle used is so thin and the sclerosing solution is so mild that pain is usually minimal.
Depending on the amount of veins being treated you may in addition to the compression tape applied during the procedure, tight-fitting support hose may be prescribed to guard against blood clots and to promote healing. The tape and cotton balls can be removed after 48 hours. However, you may be instructed to wear the support hose for 72 hours or more.
It’s not uncommon to experience some cramping in the legs for the first day or two after the injections. This temporary problem usually doesn’t require medication.
You should be aware that your treated veins will look worse before they begin to look better. When the compression dressings are removed, you will notice bruising and reddish areas at the injection sites. The bruises will diminish within one month. In many cases, there may be some residual brownish pigmentation which may take up to a year to completely fade.
Although you probably won’t want to wear any leg-baring fashions for about two weeks, your activity will not be significantly limited in any other way from sclerotherapy treatment.
You will be encouraged to walk for a few minutes every 2 hours for the first two days. At night sleep with your legs elevated. This will help to prevent clots from forming in the deep veins of the legs. During the period of time to complete your treatment program, prolonged sitting and standing should be avoided, as should squatting, heavy weight lifting and “pounding” type exercises, including jogging.
A three to four month healing interval must pass before you may have your second series of injections in the same site. After each treatment, you will notice further improvement of your legs’ appearance.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns.