Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is widely recognized as the standard treatment of spider veins. The process involves inserting a small tube into the vein and injecting it with a fluid called a sclerosing agent. This irritates the vein, causing it to shut down and become reabsorbed by the body. Most patients resume regular activities less than 24 hours of sclerotherapy. Several treatment sessions may be required for best results.

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at-a-glance

Sclerotherapy

avg. recovery
5 days
permanence
Is permanent
application
Injected
surgical
No
cost
$1500 - $3000

About the Procedure

Telangiectasias, more commonly referred to as spider veins, are clusters of blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. Spider veins can occur anywhere on the body but typically appear as red and blue webs on the legs and face. This condition is not usually associated with a more severe health condition, but can be aesthetically displeasing especially for those with pale skin. Although the exact cause of spider veins is unknown, it is believed that certain heredity preconditions, pregnancy, trauma, aging, sun damage, and hormonal influences can contribute to their development. While it may be difficult to determine their exact cause, for those who desire a simple procedure that can instantly dissolve these unsightly veins, sclerotherapy is the solution Sclerotherapy is an in-office procedure that “dissolves” spider veins almost instantly. This procedure is ideal for patients who do not have bulging varicose veins. Varicose veins will require a more in-depth procedure such as ambulatory phlebotomy or endovenous laser treatment. During sclerotherapy treatment, a solution is injected into the vein causing it to collapse and eventually die. The most common agents used in sclerotherapy are hypertonic saline, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, polidocanol, and chromated glycerin. While results can be visually seen almost instantly, final results are determined after several weeks, once the veins have died. Once it has been determined that the spider veins are not an indicator of a more serious health concern and any larger varicose veins have been successfully treated, sclerotherapy can be performed on smaller surface veins. The patient will lay comfortably on a table while the treatment area is cleansed. Next, a tiny needle will be used to inject the veins with the sclerosing agent. Injections are made every 2-3cm until the entire vein cluster has been cleared. The provider may apply manual pressure to the treatment area to spread out the sclerosing agent. When the treatment is complete, injection sites may be covered with bandages or compression stockings may be worn.

The goal of sclerotherapy is to reduce the appearance of unsightly spider veins, typically on the legs.

Concerns

Sclerotherapy addresses concerns such as:

Recovery Notes

Patients can resume normal activity immediately after the procedure, but it is recommended to avoid strenuous activities for the first few days after treatment. It is normal and expected to have some redness and swelling that may last 1-2 days. Bruising around the treated area should resolve within 1 week. Veins often temporarily become discolored as they heal. Avoid sun exposure until the treated areas return to normal appearing skin. It may take up to 6 weeks for treated veins to improve.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for sclerotherapy hasn't had a serious problem with a blood clots, is between 30 and 60 years of age, and has not given birth or been pregnant for at least three months.

Not Recommended For

Sclerotherapy is not recommended for patients who are pregnant or have had a blood clot in the past. Veins that are potentially usable for future heart bypass surgery will generally not be considered for sclerotherapy, unless deemed unusable.

Side Effects

Side effects of sclerotherapy may include bruising, stinging, swelling, skin discoloration, and redness around the injection sites. Brown lines or spots can develop near the treatment area as well which may persist for 3-6 months or become permanent.

Pros
  • little to no recovery
  • quick procedure
  • immediate results
Cons
  • multiple treatments
  • does not treat varicose veins

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