What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a very safe and effective method to treat varicose veins and spider veins.
What are spider veins and what causes them?
Spider veins are small, dilated blood vessels (capillaries) near the surface of the skin that are purple, red or blue in color. Commonly occurring on the legs, these superficial vessels may be connected in a sunburst or spider web pattern. The underlying cause of spider veins is not entirely understood, but several factors may contribute to their formation, including genetic predisposition. Hormones may also play a role in their development. Although spider veins affect both men and women, they are more common in women. Sun exposure, long periods of standing, and excessive body weight may be related to their appearance.
What are varicose veins and what causes them?
Varicose veins are larger, dilated blood vessels caused by a weakening in the vein wall. When there is a weakness in the wall, blood flow can be constricted. Varicose veins often look like raised cords that bulge above the skin’s surface. Typically found on the legs and sometimes alongside spider veins, these swollen veins are likely to cause discomfort. The exact cause is unknown, but like spider veins, family medical history, hormones, and weight can be risk factors.
How does sclerotherapy work?
A special saline solution is injected into the unwanted vein with a fine, sterile needle. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. Over a period of weeks, the vein collapses and is absorbed, becoming barely noticeable or invisible. Depending on the type of vessel being treated, a variety of solutions can be used.
Will sclerotherapy prevent new veins from appearing?
Sclerotherapy treats existing spider veins, but does not necessarily inhibit new ones from forming. Unfortunately, there is no direct way to prevent spider veins, although keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding long periods of standing may help.
What does sclerotherapy feel like?
When the solution is injected into the vein, it may cause slight tingling or burning sensation. However, the sensation is minor and goes away quickly. A typical session takes 15-30 minutes, depending on the area being treated.
What happens after treatment?
Immediately after sclerotherapy, it is common that the treated areas will appear red, bruised and slightly swollen. Pressure bandages are applied and it is recommended that patients wear compression stockings to improve results. Over the next few weeks the redness and bruising will subside. In some cases, there may be a brownish discoloration near the injection area, which fades over time.
How effective is sclerotherapy?
In general, sclerotherapy is effective and will improve the appearance of your legs. Although there is no guarantee that sclerotherapy will work in every case, the majority of people who have sclerotherapy will see significant improvement, either with the spider veins completely disappearing or becoming lighter and less noticeable.
How many treatments are needed?
The number of treatments necessary varies from case to case and depends on the extent of the veins present. A number of veins can be treated in one session. However, an individual blood vessel will typically need to be injected more than once—with two to three treatments being required on average before a difference is seen. Appointments should be spaced at least two weeks apart. The veins fade gradually, usually over the course of a few months.
When can I return to my normal activities?
Sclerotherapy requires no downtime, so patients can return to their daily routines immediately. Post treatment, standing for long periods should be avoided and walking is recommended to improve circulation. However, strenuous exercise such as jogging should be avoided for the first week following treatment.
If you are interested in sclerotherapy, contact Drs. Vranic and Tarlian at (480) 668-5000 at the Western Vascular Institute in Mesa, AZ, a dedicated vein treatment center convenient to residents in the Phoenix area.