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Posted on May 12, 2021 by Dr. Stephen Rivard

Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure for treating spider veins and varicose veins. It involves injecting FDA-approved sclerosing agents into troublesome veins to make them disappear. The procedure can enhance the cosmetic appearance and alleviate pain or other side effects of damaged veins.

Medical studies show that at least 83% of people undergoing sclerotherapy treatments experience pain relief from varicose veins. To help you make an informed decision, learn more about what to expect during and after the procedure.

Issues that Sclerotherapy Treats

Sclerotherapy is a common treatment for chronic venous insufficiency caused by swelling and abnormal bulging of veins in the legs. The most common reason is weakened vein walls that deform vein valves leading to the accumulation of blood in the veins. Varicose veins can be painful and often leads to skin rashes around affected areas.

However, not every case of varicose veins requires sclerotherapy procedures. If you have spider veins or other venous issues, it's prudent to discuss the potential treatment options with a certified medical expert and get an ultrasound to rule out any underlying issues.

Individuals with varicose veins can consider sclerotherapy for various reasons, including:

  • The skin around the affected area is dry or patchy
  • The veins become painful
  • Rashes appear near the affected veins
  • The spider veins make your legs feel sore and heavy

Depending on the symptoms, sclerotherapy can be an ideal remedy for spider veins and varicose veins in the feet, calves, thighs, and ankles.

How it Works

Depending on the severity of the venous problem, most sclerotherapy procedures require between 15 minutes to 60 minutes. For varicose veins deeper in the tissues, vein specialists often use ultrasound to guide the procedure.

The physician injects a sclerosing agent into the damaged veins, and the solution makes the veins seal off, thus rerouting blood to healthy veins. Within a few weeks, the treated vein is absorbed into the body and eventually fades. If you have more damaged veins, multiple procedures may be necessary to eliminate the problem.

What to Expect

There is minimal downtime associated with sclerotherapy, however, you should avoid strenuous physical activity, hot baths, swimming pools, and saunas for the first 48 hours. All of these activities cause the veins to dilate and we want them to stay constricted for the first 48 hours so the medication can do its job.

After the treatment is over, we will place gauze bandages over the treated areas and put compression hose on over them. You will sleep in the hose for the first night and then wear them while you are up and active for 13 more days. This facilitates proper closure of the treated veins.

Generally, smaller spider veins and varicose veins respond well to sclerotherapy procedures. You can expect to see positive results within 3 to 6 weeks. But Larger varicose veins often respond to treatment in three to four months. During the healing phase it is imperative that you avoid sun exposure until completely healed. Depending on your condition, subsequent procedures may be necessary to get rid of all the damaged veins.


Possible Risks and Side Effects

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive and safe procedure that doesn't require anesthesia. According to medical studies, sclerotherapy effectively removes about 75%-90% of targeted varicose and spider veins.

Mostly, the procedure is associated with few serious complications, and you may experience burning, and stinging in the vein during injection. Typically this is short lived and by the time you get to your car it is resolved.

  • Discomfort
  • Skin discoloration in the form of spots or lines along the course of the treated vein
  • Swelling
  • Raised red areas

Some rare side effects like allergic reactions and inflammations require medical attention.


The Takeaway
Sclerotherapy is often an effective remedy for troublesome veins. While serious complications are rare, it is important to consult a certified vein expert to assess your condition. If you are looking for help with spider veins, Illinois Vein Specialists is a leader in venous treatment and offers board-certified sclerotherapy.

Tagged scelrotherapy, spider veins, scerlotherapist, Varicose veins disease, varicose vein


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