Sclerotherapy is a well-proven procedure and has been in use since the 1930s
Spider veins and some varicose veins can be eliminated permanently through a simple office procedure called sclerotherapy. Spider veins, or telangiectasias, are those tiny purple and red blood vessels found most commonly on the thighs or lower legs of women. They are hereditary and can form anywhere on the leg, from the top of the thigh to the ankle.
Occasionally, spider veins appear on other areas of the body including the chest, back and face. Varicose veins are larger. They can appear raised with a bluish color and can become quite painful. Although spider veins and varicose veins carry blood, they are not necessary and can be safely removed.
Q. How does sclerotherapy work?
The sclerotherapy treatment was developed in the 1920's. During the procedure, a sclerosing solution is injected into the vein through a tiny needle which generally causes very little pain. The solution injures the vessel lining and slowly sticks together closing off the vessel which then gradually disappears. A typical treatment may last for 15 to 20 minutes and consist of multiple injections. Sclerotherapy may eliminate the need for an invasive surgical procedure.
Q. What happens during the first treatment?
First, we cleanse the area to be treated with alcohol. Using a tiny syringe, we will inject a small amount of the sclerosing agent into the vein which displaces the blood within the vein. This irritates the lining of the vein, making it swell shut. While each vein may require several injections, most disappear in two weeks to two months.
Most sclerotherapy patients report little if any discomfort. A few may experience a mild burning sensation when we inject the solution, but it stops in a few seconds.
Q. What can I expect after the first treatment?
Complete correction of the treated area is not expected on the first treatment. In most cases, about 40 - 70% of the treated vessels will be gone for good. However, new veins may appear and larger clumps often require additional treatments for optimum results. These treatments are usually at least 2 months apart.
You may be asked to wear special support stockings to help keep pressure on the veins. This will reduce bruising and help keep the treated veins closed. Bruises around the treated areas usually disappear after the first week. A tan or brownish pigment may persist for 2-4 months when larger veins are involved. Occasionally, small clots can develop at the injection site. These are not a cause for concern and may be removed to allow faster healing.
Patients are generally encouraged to resume normal activities immediately. We do ask that you refrain from vigorous activities for the first 24 hours. Walking is encouraged because it increases blood flow through the other veins.
Q. Are lasers helpful for leg veins?
Lasers are also used to treat blood vessels called telangiectasias. In most cases we'll start with sclerotherapy and progress with lasers for difficult to treat areas or for patients who are truly afraid of needles. The level of discomfort is similar for both lasers and sclerotherapy.
Q. How much does it cost?
The cost of sclerotherapy depends on the number of vessels present. Since it is a cosmetic procedure, it is not covered by your insurance. The charge ranges from $300-$1000 per treatment and some patients may need several treatments.