What Is Sclerotherapy, and How Effective Is It?
A quick injection into your veins can provide long-lasting relief for varicose and spider veins.
Since at least the 19th century, sclerotherapy has been used to treat chronic venous insufficiencies. Particularly effective against spider veins, it’s a proven course of treatment that offers immediate relief and positive, long-term results.
When preventative care and other noninvasive treatments fail, sclerotherapy is an ideal solution for most patients with spider veins. However, like any medical procedure, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the process before making a final decision. Here’s what you need to know.
Put simply, sclerotherapy involves an injection of a solution, the sclerosant, directly into the affected vein. Generally composed of a salt-based compound, the solution damages the inner lining of the vein, creating a small clot. After the vein collapses, the clot re-enters the bloodstream, the treated vein is reabsorbed into the surrounding tissue, and blood is rerouted through healthier surrounding veins.
Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive outpatient procedure that usually takes no more than 30 minutes. Once treatments concludes, patients are able to drive themselves home and resume normal activities, though most patients should wear compression garments over the treated vein, avoid prolonged sun exposure, and refrain from aerobic exercise for several days after the procedure.
How Sclerotherapy Helps
Sclerotherapy can effectively treat 50 to 80% of damaged veins with each session, while fewer than 10% of patients report no improvement in their condition. For patients suffering from spider veins, it can alleviate pain, significantly reduce swelling, and promote circulation. By lessening swelling, it can also eliminate unsightly bulging of the veins against the skin.
While most spider vein cases respond well to sclerotherapy, some patients may require multiple rounds of treatment before seeing improvement. If pain and inflammation remain after three to four weeks, another injection may be necessary.
As a noninvasive procedure, sclerotherapy carries fewer complications than a more invasive alternative, but some patients may experience some minor side effects. The most common include pain, itching, bruising, and inflammation at the site of the injection, but slight discoloration of the skin and hives are possible in some cases. Most of these symptoms should last for much longer than several days.
Know Your Options
While sclerotherapy is an effective and appropriate therapy for many patients, different conditions and circumstances may require different approaches. Today, there are a wide variety of minimally or non-invasive treatment options for venous disorders available, ranging from simple lifestyle changes to laser and radiofrequency ablations and phlebectomies. If you’re struggling with spider veins, or any chronic venous insufficiency, schedule an appointment with a qualified vein specialist today to determine which procedure is best for you.