What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a popular method of eliminating spider veins and small reticular veins using a solution called a sclerosing agent. The sclerosing agent is injected into the veins to break down the vein wall.
Does sclerotherapy work for everyone?
Most individuals who receive sclerotherapy treatments will have visible improvement or clearing of the superficial veins completely. However, there is no guarantee that sclerotherapy will be effective in every case. Some veins may be too small for sclerotherapy and may require laser treatment or some veins might be too deep and require the expertise of a vascular surgeon to treat. To achieve optimal results, all sclerotherapy patients should wear compression stockings for 2 weeks following treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed to clear or improve cosmetic reticular and spider veins differ for each person. The number of treatments can range from one to six, with the average number being three to five. Individual veins may require more than one treatment. Over time, as we age, more veins may appear and may require treatment.
What are the most common side effects?
Itching: You may experience mild itching along the area of the treated vein(s). This normally lasts approximately 1-2 days.
Transient Hyperpigmentation: Some patients may notice a darkening of the area after the procedure. In most cases, this will resolve on its own within 6-12 months but may also require laser treatment to achieve full resolution and the desired cosmetic result.
Sloughing: Sloughing consists of a small, slowly healing ulceration at the injection sites. A blister may form, open, and become ulcerated. The scar that follows should return to a normal color.
Allergic reactions: Very rarely a patient may have an allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent. This risk is greater in patients who have a history of allergic reactions.
Pain: Mild discomfort is to be expected for up to a week and in some cases, longer. Some patients may experience moderate to severe pain and some bruising around the injection site. The veins may be tender to the touch after treatment and an uncomfortable sensation may be felt along the vein route. Again, this pain is usually temporary and, in most patients, lasts about a week, occasionally Longer. Occasionally, a small clot or “knot” may develop, and this might be tender. Your body will absorb this over time. (Sometimes we do a simple extraction of this clot if it does not re-absorb over time).
What should I DO or NOT DO before and after my sclerotherapy procedure to decrease the chance of complications and increase the likelihood of achieving my desired results?
- DO purchase pantyhose style compression stockings prior to your treatment and bring them with you to the appointment that have 20-30 mm Hg of compression. You can purchase quality stockings from www.brightlifedirect.com. These generally cost $10-$50. You may also purchase stockings locally from the Medical Arts Pharmacy or Price Rite. Prior to purchasing the compression stockings, please read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper sizing and measuring.
- DO NOT have a tan (to include tanning lotions) at the time of your treatment. Avoid sun exposure and do not use tanning lotions on your legs for 2 weeks prior to your sclerotherapy treatment.
- DO NOT use moisturizers or shave your legs on the day of your treatment.
Avoid taking ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, naproxen, Excedrin, or aspirin 2 weeks before your procedure because these medications can increase the possibility of bleeding and bruising. Please wear or bring shorts to change into before your treatment. If the weather is cold, wear loose pants that your compression stockings will fit comfortably under after your procedure. On the day of your procedure before you come in, shower/take a bath – you will not be able to get your leg wet for 48 hours afterwards.
What can I expect during the Sclerotherapy Procedure?
You will be brought into the treatment room and provided the opportunity to change into your shorts if you are not already wearing them. Topical numbing cream will be offered – there might be some mild burning during the procedure, but the cream will decrease or eliminate the pinch of the needle. If numbing cream is applied, 5-7 minutes will pass, you will be positioned on the table according to the area being treated, the cream will be removed, and your skin will be cleaned/prepared with alcohol wipes. The actual treatment involves injecting the targeted vein(s) with a very fine needle and injecting the solution. The duration of the procedure will vary depending on the size of the area being treated and/or the complexity involved. After each site is treated, a small compression dressing will be applied and at the conclusion of the treatment, you will put your compression stockings on before you leave the treatment room.