Sclerotherapy is a modern medical procedure that a doctor with proper training and experience can use to get rid of spider veins and varicose veins in his patients. Sclerotherapy is the injection of salt solution or another agent into a problem vein. The solution causes irritation to the lining of the vessel that causes it to swell and stick together, closing the vein off. As scar tissues forms over time, the veins reduces in visibility and eventually fades away.
This proven method of closing veins has been used in one form or another since the 1930s.
Before having sclerotherapy, you will participate in a consultation with a dermatologist or other vascular medicine specialist to determine if you’re a suitable candidate for this type of procedure.
If you’re pregnant, you are not eligible. It’s possible to have sclerotherapy while taking birth control medication. If you have had a blood clot, an individual determination will have to be made about whether you can have the procedure. This will be determined based on your health overall, what area needs to be treated and why you had the clot.
Veins that could be usable in the future for a heart bypass procedure are not usually considered for sclerotherapy unless they are already deemed to be unsuitable for heart surgery.
How Sclerotherapy Is Performed
In most cases, a salt solution is injected into the vein being treated through a fine-gauge needle. This may result in some discomfort and cramping for as long two minutes. This is especially true with larger veins. The entire procedure is complete in less than half hour.
How many veins can be injected during a session is determined by the size and location of the vessels and your overall medical condition.
Sclerotherapy is done in a physician’s office by a surgeon or dermatologist (alternatively, learn how to offer sclerotherapy inyour office) and requires that you avoid participation in strenuous and aerobic exercises for several days following the procedure.
Who To Do Before The Procedure
Certain medications should be avoided before sclerotherapy. Consult with your doctor about the medicines you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs as well as herbal and dietary supplements. Contact the doctor if it is necessary to take an antibiotic before the procedure. Lotion should not be applied to the legs the day of the procedure.
Some doctors may recommend avoiding ibuprofen, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medicines for 2 to 3 days before the procedure. Tylenol is not generally among the drugs doctors recommend avoiding.
Sclerotherapy Side Effects
Side effects that you may experience after sclerotherapy are usually mild things like itching and may last for a day or two. Raised, red areas at the site of injection are also possible and should disappear within days. Bruising is possible and may last for weeks.
Additional potential side effects include the following:
- Larger treated veins can become hard and lumpy, and this problem may take several months to fade away.
- Brown spots or lines may appear at the vein location. These usually disappear about 3 to 6 months but may remain much longer.
- New, small blood vessels may become visible at the site of the sclerotherapy treatment days or weeks after the procedure but should fade over the coming months with no additional treatment.
The following more serious side effects require contacting the doctor immediately:
- Inflammation within a few inches of the groin.
- Sudden swelling of the leg.
- Formation of tiny ulcers at the site of the injection.
Allergic reactions to the fluid used for sclerotherapy are possible but rare.
Walking is encouraged after the procedure, and it’s possible to resume regular activities the next day. It’s okay to drive yourself home.
The procedure is 50 to 80 percent effective with each treatment, and insurance coverage varies. If the varicose veins are causing medical problems, coverage of treatment is more likely.
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