At the Center for Advanced Vein Care, one of the procedures we offer is ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. This minimally invasive treatment is used to treat varicose and spider veins, and can be done in our vein clinic with very little downtime. This effective treatment has been used for decades to fade the appearance of these pesky and often uncomfortable veins. However, many people are not aware of what exactly this procedure entails. In this blog, we will go over sclerotherapy and what you can expect from it.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a procedure to treat spider and varicose veins. During the procedure, your doctor will inject a salt solution in your varicose or spider veins. This solution causes the lining of your blood vessels to collapse and the blood to clot. With time, this turns into scar tissue, which then fades so the veins can no longer be seen.
Who can get sclerotherapy?
Before you can get sclerotherapy, you need to consult with a vein doctor or dermatologist to determine whether or not you should receive this treatment. Pregnant women are not eligible for sclerotherapy. People who have had blood clots before may or may not be eligible; your doctor will weigh the potential benefits and risks based on your personal medical history. If you are in need of heart bypass surgery, you may be turned down for sclerotherapy if the veins could be used in the future.
What can I expect during the procedure?
The procedure will take place at our vein clinic. The doctor will use a small, fine needle to inject a salt solution into the veins in question. This could be mildly uncomfortable for a couple of minutes, as cramping is common, particularly when the vein is larger. You can expect the procedure to take somewhere between 15 minutes and half an hour. How many veins are treated at once is dependent on where they are located, how big they are, and your overall health. After the procedure, you will need to refrain from aerobic exercise for a couple of days.
How can I prepare for sclerotherapy?
There are certain medications that should not be used before sclerotherapy; your doctor will review these for you to ensure you are avoiding them. Do not apply any lotion to your legs before the procedure. Some anti-inflammatory drugs can interfere with the procedure; if you need to take one, Tylenol is best.
What can I expect after sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment, so you will be fine to drive yourself home and resume your day as normal. Walking will help with circulation, so it is recommended that you incorporate walking into your routine. You will wear compression stockings; if you already own them, you should bring them with you to the appointment so your vein doctor can ensure that they are adequately tight. You should avoid taking any anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin for 48 hours after your procedure. You should also avoid hot compresses, saunas, hot baths, and direct sunlight. You can shower, but use tepid water.
What are the side effects?
Some patients experience side effects from the procedure, including itching or raised red areas around the injection site. A mild allergic reaction can occur but is not often serious. Both of these side effects should go away within days after treatment. Some people also experience bruising that can last a few weeks. Additionally, particularly larger veins can take a few months to fully fade, and may become lumpy first. Some experience brown spots on their skin, which generally go away after a few months (but sometimes don’t). Some patients also experience new blood vessels forming at the injection site. These usually fade within a year without additional treatment.
There are certain side effects that should you experience, you should immediately contact your doctor. If your discover inflammation near your groin area, call our vein clinic. Additionally, if your leg suddenly starts swelling, or you start to form ulcers around the site of injection, it’s important to see your doctor ASAP.
How effective is this treatment?
Sclerotherapy effectively eliminates from 50 to 80 percent of the injected veins with each treatment. People who do not respond at all to treatment represent less than 10 percent of patients. Spider veins tend to fade within three to six weeks, while the larger varicose veins are more likely to respond after a few months. While veins that have been injected should not reappear, you may be required to get more treatments in the future if new veins begin to appear.
At Center for Advanced Vein Care, we offer a variety of vein treatments, including sclerotherapy. If you need a vein clinic in Mentor, OH, we’re here for you! Schedule your free screening today.