What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is the treatment of varicose and spider veins.
How does Sclerotherapy work?
Sclerotherapy is the injection of a sclerosing agent (a chemical irritant) into the veins. An inflammatory reaction occurs within the vein, causing the blood to clot and the veins to swell and fibrose. As the blood flow is restricted, the appearance of these veins are reduced.
How many sessions are required?
Multiple sessions may be required depending on the severity and the extent of the veins to be treated. This will be discussed with you in your initial consultation upon which the doctor will determine if you are a viable candidate for the treatment.
What can be expected from a treatment session?
A fine needle is used for multiple injections of the sclerosant into the vein. The injections may cause a slight stinging sensation and bleeding is minimal. At the end of the session, the doctor will wrap an elasticated bandage around the treated areas (most commonly legs) as well as supply elasticated stockings which will prevent blood clots. Patients are required to wear these for a period of time decided by the doctor doing the treatment.
What should be done prior to the procedure?
Avoid any blood thinning medication or supplements that might increase bleeding and/or the risk of bruising for at least 48 hours prior to the procedure.
Additionally, lotion should not be applied to the areas requiring treatment.
What are the post-procedure expectations?
- Treated veins can take 3-12 weeks to disappear completely.
- Patients can drive themselves home.
- Elasticated stockings must be worn.
- Walk and move around as much as possible.
- Avoid anti-inflammatories, as well as hot baths, saunas, direct sunlight exposure or any warm packs/compresses for at least 48 hours after the procedure.
- Avoid prolonged standing and any strenuous activity during the healing process.
Is Sclerotherapy safe?
Sclerotherapy is an effective and safe means of treatment. Women taking oral contraceptives may be treated. However, pregnant and bedridden patients should not receive this treatment. Patients with a history of blood clots (eg. DVT – deep vein thrombosis) will be assessed on an individual basis. Additionally, large veins that could potentially be used for bypass surgery may not be treated.
Are there any side effects?
- Side effects could include itching at the injection sites. The areas can be quite red and raised. This resolves within a few days.
- Bruising, if it occurs may take longer to subside.
- Some veins, especially larger ones, may become hard and take longer (few months) to dissolve and fade.
- Brown lines / spots may occur and may disappear within 6 months.
- Newer vein formations may occur alongside the treated areas. Most resolve over time without the need for treatment.
- Allergies to the sclerosing agents are rare but could occur.