Sclerotherapy, a minimally invasive procedure that treats small varicose veins and spider veins, involves the injection of a solution using a small needle directly into the damaged veins, eventually causing them to shrink and disappear. The procedure improves the cosmetic appearance of the spider veins and relieves varicose vein related symptoms such as aching, burning and swelling.
Preparing for the procedure
Your doctor will need to know your medical history including recent illnesses, previous treatments and results, medicines taken (including dietary supplements), and your allergies.
If you take aspirin or are on blood thinners your doctor may ask you to stop the medications for a while before the procedure. This is done to reduce the risk of bleeding.
If you need to take an antibiotic before the procedure, it should be informed to the doctor prior to the procedure.
If you are pregnant, then you are not a suitable candidate for sclerotherapy.
Any history of the blood clots will be evaluated and based on the overall health of the affected area and the reason for the clots your eligibility for the treatment will be decided by your doctor.
Your doctor may ask you to undergo ultrasound imaging of the veins on your legs. It is important that you avoid shaving or applying any lotion over the affected veins on your legs before or after the procedure until the injection site is completely healed.
The procedure does not require anaesthesia and generally, a session takes less than an hour to complete.
Procedural Side effects
Bruising, redness, skin sores and skin darkening are few problems that can occur at the site of injection. These usually wither away in a few days or weeks. Few other side effects may last longer and may need months or years to completely vanish. Some may require further treatment and include symptoms such as
If the treatment is followed by inflammation which causes mild swelling, and discomfort near the injection site, your doctor may prescribe mild pain – relievers to reduce the inflammation.
The blood clot may form in the treated veins which may require drainage. When a blood clot travels to the deeper veins in the leg a condition called deep vein thrombosis is caused. This is a very rare complication of sclerotherapy that requires immediate medical help.
The solution injected into the veins might cause allergic reactions in few patients, though it is very rare.
Headache, nausea, dizziness, and visual disturbance may occur when air bubbles are present in the bloodstream. If your limb movement or sensation is affected after the treatment, and the symptoms do not go away, call for medical help.
The development of new, tiny blood vessels may occur at the site of injection. They may appear days or weeks after the procedure, but usually, fade within few months and does not require further treatment.
Sclerotherapy is proven to be effective and several studies show that nearly 50% – 80% of injected veins are eliminated with each session of treatment.
Generally, spider veins show good response in three to six weeks and larger varicose veins in about four months. If new veins start appearing you may need to return for another session of injection.
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