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The Sclerotherapy Treatment


The sclerotherapy treatment effectively treats varicose and spider veins. It is frequently considered the treatment of the first choice for small varicose veins. This treatment involves a vein expert injecting a chemical solution, sclerosing agents, directly into the varicose or spider veins.

The sclerotherapy chemical solution irritates your blood vessel lining, making it expand, stick together, and cause the vein to scar. This situation forces blood to reroute out through healthier veins, and the collapsed vein is later reabsorbed into the surrounding tissue and ultimately fades away.

After the treatment, the treated veins tend to vanish within a few weeks, although it can sometimes take a month or more to see full results. In some cases, patients may need several sclerotherapy treatments.

Why Undergo Sclerotherapy

The primary goal of sclerotherapy treatment is to help individuals with varicose or spider veins reduce the symptoms and improve the affected areas’ physical appearance. More rarely, physicians may use sclerotherapy to treat hemorrhoids.

Choosing an appropriate treatment depends on your specific preferences and symptoms. That said, you may consider sclerotherapy treatment because it is a less invasive procedure. In addition, it can significantly help your symptoms and the appearance of veins that will not need further surgical intervention.

sclerotherapy treatment

Actually, in a study made in 2016, eighty percent of participants who underwent a sclerotherapy treatment did not need further surgery to treat their symptoms.

This treatment can also improve related symptoms, such as:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Burning
  • Night cramps

You should talk to your physician to determine if sclerotherapy treatment is proper for your condition. For example, physicians recommend waiting for sclerotherapy treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Parts Of The Body Sclerotherapy Can Treat

The most frequent parts for developing varicose veins are the legs and feet.

The damaged veins may be elevated, discolored, or inflamed, and some may be deeper under the skin, causing discomfort. In addition, spider veins are smaller in size; they locate closer to the skin’s surface and may have a red, purple, or blue appearance.

Physicians generally use sclerotherapy treatment for hemorrhoids when they are minor and internal. However, you may also use this treatment when hemorrhoids bleed or when you cannot risk having a surgical procedure, such as a hemorrhoidectomy, because of other health issues.

Depending on the size of the affected veins, vein specialists use sclerotherapy treatment to treat varicose and spider veins in the following parts of the body:

  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Face, often the sides of the nose
  • Anus

Most patients with varicose or spider veins can be candidates for sclerotherapy treatment. However, specialists perform more of this procedure on patients between the ages of thirty and sixty and women because these conditions become more visible as people age and tend to be less noticeable in men whose bodies have hair.

Patients who are bedridden, pregnant, breastfeeding, or have given birth within the last three months are not candidates for the treatment.

To know if you qualify for the treatment, you must undergo an examination by a vascular specialist, who will determine if this treatment is best for you.

How Sclerotherapy Treatment Functions

Depending on the severity of your condition, sclerotherapy treatment for venous issues may take thirty to forty-five minutes. If you are undergoing treatment for your legs, your physician may ask you to lie on your back with your legs elevated.

In some cases, depending on how far under the skin the affected vein is, your physician may use ultrasound as part of the process.

The treatment begins when the vein specialist cleans the skin around the targeted veins. Using a fine needle, the specialist will inject the affected vein with a sclerosing agent, such as:

  • Polidocanol
  • Sodium tetradecyl-sulfate
  • Hypertonic saline solutions

The liquid or foamy solution causes the walls of the injected vein to close tightly, so blood is redirected to healthy veins. Over time, your body will absorb the affected vein, making it less visible and uncomfortable. You may need up to four treatments depending on the vein size.

Sclerotherapy treatment produces few serious complications; nevertheless, temporary side effects may occur at the injection spot, which includes:

  • Bruising
  • Elevated red zones
  • Small ulcers on the skin
  • Darkened skin in the form of lines or spots
  • Multiple tiny red blood vessels

These side effects generally go away in a few days to several weeks. However, some side effects may take months or even years to disappear completely.

Some Side Effects That May Need Treatment

Other complications are less common but may need treatment; these include:

Inflammation is usually mild but may cause swelling, warmth, and discomfort around the injection spot. To reduce swelling, your vein specialist may suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin or ibuprofen like Advil or Motrin-IB.

Blood clot: a lump of clotted blood that may form in a treated vein requiring drainage. Rarely a blood clot may transport into a vein more profound in the leg (deep vein thrombosis).

Deep vein thrombosis risks pulmonary embolism (a rare complication of sclerotherapy treatment), an emergency where the clot rides from the leg to the lungs and blocks a vital artery. You should seek immediate medical attention whenever you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or if you start coughing up blood.

Air bubbles: tiny air bubbles can ascend in your bloodstream. These bubbles do not always cause symptoms, but if they do, symptoms include visual disturbances, headaches, fainting, and nausea. These symptoms usually go away, but you should call your physician if your experience problems with limb movement or sensation after the treatment.

Allergic reaction: it is possible to have an allergic reaction to the solution utilized for treatment, but it is rare.

Preparing For Sclerotherapy Treatment

Before the treatment, your physician performs a physical examination and collects your medical history.

For your physical exam, your physician will evaluate the veins involved and check for any underlying disease of the blood vessels.

After, your physician will want to know your medical history, including asking about any:

  • Recent illnesses or existing medical conditions, such as a heart condition or a history of blood clots.
  • Medications or supplements you take, especially aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, blood thinners, iron supplements, or herbal supplements.
  • Previous varicose vein treatment and treatment results.
sclerotherapy treatment samples

Suppose you take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or blood thinners; in that case, your physician will guide you on the way to stop taking the medication for a certain amount of time before the sclerotherapy treatment to reduce the chance of bleeding.

Depending on which veins your physician will treat, you may need ultrasound scans of your legs’ veins. Ultrasound is not a painful process that utilizes sound waves to generate images of structures within the body.

Before the treatment, avoid shaving or applying any lotion to your legs. In addition, to your appointment, consider wearing loose-fitting, comfortable clothing, such as a pair of shorts, so your legs are exposed.

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Sclerotherapy Treatment Process

The vein specialist usually performs the sclerotherapy treatment in the medical office, and it does not require anesthesia; it usually takes less than an hour to complete.

You will lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated for the treatment. Your doctor will clean the area of the treatment with alcohol and will use a thin syringe to insert a solution slowly into the corresponding vein.

The solution, usually in liquid form, irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and block blood flow. Some solutions include a local anesthetic named lidocaine.

Ultimately, the vein will become scar tissue and disappear. Sometimes doctors use a foam version of the solution, mainly when the vein in question is more prominent. The foam covers more surface area than the liquid.

Some patients experience mild stinging or cramping when inserting a needle into the vein. If you have a lot of pain, you should tell your physician. In addition, there may be pain if the solution leaks from the vein into the surrounding tissue.

Once your physician removes the needle, then compresses and massages the site to maintain blood out of the infiltrated vessel and dissipate the solution. The specialist may place a compression pad at the injection spot to keep the site compressed while moving on to the next vein.

The number of injections may depend on the amount and dimensions of veins to treat.

After Sclerotherapy Treatment

You will be able to get up and walk shortly after the treatment. Walking and moving your legs are essential to prevent blood clots from forming.

Your physician will instruct you to wear compression stockings or bandages, usually for about two weeks, to maintain compression on the treated veins.

Most patients return to normal activities the same day, but you may want to have someone drive you home after treatment. In addition, your physician will probably recommend that you avoid strenuous exercise for two weeks after treatment.

You will also want to evade sun exposure to the treated areas during that time. The swelling the injections cause, combined with sun exposure, can cause dark marks on your skin, particularly if you already have a tanned skin tone.

Sclerotherapy Treatment Results

Patients treated for spider or small varicose veins could generally expect to notice definitive positive results in three to six weeks. However, more prominent veins may need three to four months and multiple treatments to achieve the desired results.

After the affected veins have responded to the treatment, they usually do not return or reappear, but new varicose or spider veins may develop.

Your physician will likely schedule a follow-up visit about a month after the treatment to determine how well it worked and if you need more sessions. After that, you should wait about six weeks before having another sclerotherapy treatment.

Before making a decision, you should discuss the benefits and risks of sclerotherapy with your physician and possible coverage with an insurer.



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Modern Heart and Vascular, a preventive cardiology medical practice, has several offices around Houston. We have locations in Humble, Cleveland, The Woodlands, Katy, and Livingston.

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At the Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, we offer state-of-the-art cardiovascular care with innovative diagnostic tools and compassionate patient care. Our priority at Modern Heart and Vascular Institute is prevention. We help patients lead healthier lives by avoiding unnecessary procedures and surgeries.

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This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.

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