What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a method of removing spider veins in the legs by injecting a liquid into the vein. This liquid causes the size of the small blood vessels to swell so the blood can’t travel through it anymore. The body eventually absorbs these vessels.
While there are several different liquid compounds used for these injections, we most commonly use Asclera — a solution that effectively treats the vein and has an anesthetic effect. This solution results in a minimally painful procedure for the patient. In fact, most patients are surprised at how little discomfort they feel with this injection.
What Are the Benefits of Sclerotherapy?
While there’s no sure way to prevent spider veins from showing up, sclerotherapy is a relatively easy option for erasing them if they appear.
There are numerous benefits of sclerotherapy, including:
- Improved appearance of spider veins
- Pain relief
- Speedy treatment and recovery
- Non-surgical treatment
- Increased confidence
- Low-risk procedure
What to Expect During Sclerotherapy Treatment
The treatment itself lasts 15-30 minutes, depending on how the provider prefers to schedule these procedures. We insert a thin needle into each individual vein, disperse the liquid, remove the needle, and apply a pressure dressing over the vein. Patients should bring their compression stockings to the appointment and wear them after the procedure is complete.
Expect to need more than one treatment in order for veins to disappear. Not everyone’s veins respond the same way to the treatment.
On average, patients need a minimum of three sessions, depending on how many veins they have and how their veins respond. We may inject a vein that doesn’t disappear. In a subsequent treatment, we can then use a different concentration of the liquid compound we inject to better treat the specific vein.
Does sclerotherapy cause blood clots or DVT?
This is a low risk procedure that poses very little chance of resulting in a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis. If a patient has a personal or family history of these conditions, we want to discuss and document those concerns during the consultation.
Does sclerotherapy hurt?
This procedure causes minimal discomfort, especially when we use Asclera or other new injection solutions. Most patients experience even less pain than they expect.
In years past, we used a hypertonic saline solution for the injection which was quite painful for patients and often resulted in muscle cramps. However, new solutions allow us to conduct this procedure in a way that’s much more comfortable for the patient.
What are the side effects of sclerotherapy?
There’s a small risk of developing an ulceration at the site of the injection. This can occur when an injectable liquid goes outside of the vein and gets into the skin. Ulcers are more common with saline, but rarely seen with Asclera and the other new injectable solutions.
The most common side effect for patients is a light brown pigment that appears where the vein was. This pigmentation is the hemoglobin from the blood that remains in that area as the body absorbs the vessel. After a few months, it should fade completely.
If you opt to have sclerotherapy during the winter months, you give your body time to absorb the vein and pigment before your legs are exposed regularly.
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