Everything You Need to Know About Sclerotherapy for Veins
- Posted on: Jul 20 2020
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Dr. Seth Stein – I am a vein specialist with subspecialty training in Vascular and Interventional Radiology, a growing specialty dedicated exclusively to minimally invasive procedures. I am a native of Bucks County, having recently returned after spending time working in New York City and Chicago. I trained with the pioneers of endovenous laser ablation at the Weill Cornell Vein Treatment Center in New York City, and most recently was working in a multispecialty vein practice at Northwestern University in Chicago. With my roots in Bucks County, my goal has always been to bring the best techniques and latest innovations back here. What better place to deliver high quality vein care than at RMA, which already has a stellar reputation in the community.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a safe, clinically effective cosmetic treatment of spider veins in the legs. The treatment involves injecting a small amount of a liquid (sclerosant) into the leg veins, which works to disrupt the inside of the vein so that it collapses, shrivels and disappears.
What is the difference between spider veins and varicose veins?
Spider veins are small purple/red veins that are about the size of a hair that appear on the skin surface. They are harmless, pose no health risk and are treated for cosmetic reasons.
Varicose veins are slightly larger, deeper, bulging veins that appear in the legs. These may have associated symptoms such as throbbing or aching, especially after long periods of standing. While these may be unsightly, they may be a result of an underlying medical vein condition.
Can sclerotherapy be used to treat large varicose veins?
Yes. However, because these veins are deeper and may be connected to important deeper veins in the leg, it is essential to use ultrasound to map out these connections during treatment.
How many sclerotherapy treatments are required?
Several sessions are often needed to achieve best results. Most patient require 1-3 treatments.
Is sclerotherapy a permanent solution?
Most people have good results from sclerotherapy. A course of treatment is considered successful if it improves unwanted veins by 75-80%. This treatment will not prevent new spider veins from developing in the future.
Do I have to limit any activity after the treatment?
For 1 week after the procedure, please avoid aerobic impact activities like running, jumping and lifting weights with your legs. Walking is encouraged at least 30 minutes per day. After 1 week, you may resume your normal exercise routine.
Does sclerotherapy hurt?
No anesthesia or sedation is required for sclerotherapy. Most patients do not experience pain during the procedure – the treatment is very close to the skin surface and is performed with a needle similar in size to an acupuncture needle.
Can anyone undergo sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy can be performed on most adults. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to avoid sclerotherapy as this treatment has not been tested in pregnant women and the effects on the infant or fetus are unknown.
Is there any preparation required before sclerotherapy?
Yes. To reduce bruising, avoid Vitamin E, Aspirin, and NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen (Motrin, Aleve, Advil) for 5 days prior to procedure. If these are prescribed to you, contact your health provider for permission to stop them.
What happens after sclerotherapy treatment?
Patients are to wear compression stockings for 1 week for best results. Bruising is common, and the legs will often look worse before they look better. To allow for healing, it is best to schedule your sessions 2 to 4 weeks apart.
How long is each sclerotherapy session?
One sclerotherapy session takes about 45 minutes.
What are side effects of sclerotherapy?
This is a very low risk procedure, especially in the hands of a medical professional. The most common side effects include:
- Venous matting – blush-like changes around treated areas, which go away over several months.
- Trapped blood – it may feel like a small pea under the skin. It is not harmful and will go away with time. If painful, this can be easily treated in the office.
- Skin color changes/bruising – this will usually go away with time. Avoiding sun exposure and wearing compression stockings after procedure are the best methods to prevent or lessen skin darkening.
- Skin ulcers/scars – rarely, open sores can develop at skin treatment sites.
- Allergic reaction
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