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         Treat Your Veins with Sclerotherapy

What are varicose veins?

When veins bulge because of the pooling of blood due to poor circulation, they become visible and are commonly called varicose veins. They usually develop in the thighs and legs, but can also occur in any part of the body. There are large varicose veins that are palpable and dilated up to 4 millimeters in diameter or greater. Smaller veins, also known as “spider veins” may appear on the skin surface. They are characterized by short, fine, non-palpable lines that usually form into web-like mazes.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for varicose and spider veins. This procedure is done by the direct injection of a solution into the vein. The solution causes the vein to scar and eventually collapse, the pooled blood rerouting through other healthier veins. The veins that collapsed eventually fade as it is reabsorbed into the local tissue.

Can I undergo sclerotherapy?

During your initial consultation, your doctor will be able to decide if you are suited to undergo a sclerotherapy. Most likely, you are eligible if:

  • You are not pregnant.
  • You have not had any bleeding cases in the past, although this varies for every individual.
  • You are not currently taking birth control pills.

If you are unsure whether you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy or not, you can consult Dr. Randall Barnett at the Alpine Plastic Surgery Clinic in Salt Lake City, UT. Dr. Barnett will discuss various options, too.

Why is sclerotherapy done?

Sclerotherapy is most commonly done for cosmetic purposes, which is to enhance the appearance of the area with varicose or spider veins. Furthermore, sclerotherapy can also improve other symptoms such as:

  • Swelling
  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Night cramps

What side effects are associated with sclerotherapy?

  • About 10 to 30 percent of sclerotherapy patients have experienced hyperpigmentation, or a dark discoloration, on the treated area. This usually occurs since the red blood cells disintegrate in the treated blood vessels. Based on majority of the cases, this discoloration fades away completely in about six months.
  • Patients who are treated with sclerotherapy may also find new spider vein formations near the treated area. About 20 percent of patients have experienced this although this side effect usually subsides within 6 months.
  • The area around the injection site may also form an ulcer, but this is very rare.

How do I prepare for sclerotherapy?

During your initial consultation with the doctor, you may need to prepare your medical history, including:

  • Existing medical conditions, especially involving the heart and other vital organs
  • Medications and supplements you are currently taking, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, antibiotics, and other blood thinners
  • Smoking or the use of oral contraceptives, which may interfere with the blood’s ability to clot
  • Any allergies
  • Previous surgeries or treatments involving varicose veins and the results of these treatments

The day before the procedure, you are to avoid shaving or applying creams or lotion to your legs. Also, it would be best to wear comfortable and loose clothing on the day of the treatment.

What can I expect during sclerotherapy?

  • During the procedure, a salt solution is directly injected into the vein through the use of a very fine needle. The patient may experience a cramping sensation or a little discomfort for about 1 to 2 minutes during injections. The whole procedure usually lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes.
  • The number of varicose veins treated in a session varies and depends on their size and location. The patient’s general health also has to be taken into consideration during treatment.
  • A sclerotherapy may be performed by a registered nurse. It is important not to engage in any aerobic activity during the first few days after the treatment.

What happens after sclerotherapy?

  • Once the procedure is done, you will be allowed to rest on your back for a duration of 15 to 20 minutes. The injection sites will be checked for any immediate reactions. You will most likely be advised to walk right after the procedure to prevent blood clot formation around the area.
  • For about 1 weeks, you will be asked to maintain compression on the treated area by wearing compression bandage or stockings.
  • Although most patients are able to return to their daily activities on the same day, patients are advised to avoid doing strenuous exercises and activities for 2 weeks following treatment.
  • Sun exposure to the treated area has to be avoided a couple of weeks after sclerotherapy. Sun exposure to the injection sites may lead to the appearance of dark spots on the skin surface, especially for patients who already have dark complexion.

What will the results be?

If small varicose or spider veins were treated, you are more likely to see significant results within 3 to 6 weeks. In the case of larger veins, it may take up to 3 to 4 months. Although treated veins do not come back after treatment, there is no guarantee that newer veins will no longer appear.

A follow-up visit may be required after a month for the treated area to be evaluated. This is also to check if further treatment sessions are needed.