Varicose/Spider Vein Treatment
Sclerotherapy is an injectable treatment that reduces the appearance of superficial varicose veins. Varicose veins and spider veins are veins that have become twisted and enlarged. Occasionally they can be painful and lead to serious health concerns, but for most people varicose and spider veins cause only a cosmetic concern. Some people become self-consciousness about their appearance when wearing dresses, shorts, or anything that exposes the area. Sclerotherapy reduces the appearance of spider veins and varicose veins in the thighs, behind the knees, and in the calves and ankles.
Damaged or weak valves that are not properly opening to allow blood flow toward the heart, allows blood to pool in the veins, causing them to stretch and twist. This happens more frequently in the veins as the muscles in the legs are working against gravity to pump the blood to the heart with the additional strain of constant pressure in the legs from standing and sitting. Sclerotherapy treatment involves injecting a solution directly into the vein, which closes off the damage vein and reroutes the blood through healthier veins. The damaged vein will then be reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades, effectively eliminating spider veins. Results are visible immediately, and full vein reabsorption will begin within just a few weeks. It may take a month or more for full results and may even take several treatments depending on the severity of the varicose or spider veins. Sclerotherapy works best on spider veins that are less than 1mm in diameter, and varicose veins that are between 1-3mm in diameter.
Common Side Effects of Sclerotherapy Treatments
Another great benefit of sclerotherapy treatment is the minimal side effects and that there is no down-time needed. You can resume normal day-to-day activities immediately following treatment.
Temporary side effects that typically resolve in a few days or weeks:
● Raised red areas
● Small skin sores
● Darkened skin lines or spots
● Multiple tiny red blood vessels
What to Expect With Sclerotherapy Treatments
Before the Procedure
Before your procedure, the providers at Look Lab will review your medical history, evaluate the veins that are involved, and check for any potential underlying blood vessel disease.
Medical history you should share with your doctor:
● Recent illnesses or medical conditions, such as heart conditions or any history of blood clots
● Medications or supplements, especially blood thinners, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, iron supplements, and herbal supplements (your doctor will recommend you stop taking them a specific time length before the procedure to reduce chances of bleeding).
● Previous treatment for varicose veins and the results
● Your doctor may request an ultrasound of the involved veins
If you have a history of blood clotting or thromboembolic disease you should avoid having sclerotherapy. You should also postpone if you are pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant.
Preparing for the Procedure
- Stop any medications the doctor has instructed you to stop
- Avoid shaving or applying lotion to legs the day before procedure
- Wear loose comfortable clothing to procedure (or shorts)
The procedure itself takes less than an hour, is done in the office, and does not require anesthesia. Most people say that it is relatively painless. You will lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated. The area will be cleaned with alcohol and your doctor will insert a small needle slowly into the appropriate vein. The solution includes a local anesthetic to reduce discomfort. You may experience minor stinging or cramps; if you have pain, tell your doctor.
After the doctor withdraws the needle, they will apply compression and massage the area to disperse the solution and keep blood out of the injected vessel. They may also use a compression pad on the injected site.
Multiple injections may be needed depending on the number and size of veins being treated.
After the Procedure
Your doctor will encourage you to get up and walk around immediately after the procedure. Walking and movement of the legs will help prevent blood clots from forming. Walking a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes every day for the week following your treatment is recommended. You will also be encouraged to wear compression stockings for about two weeks to keep the treated veins compressed. You can return to normal activities the same day as the procedure but should have someone else drive you home after the procedure. Strenuous exercise or activity should be avoided for two weeks. Sun exposure should also be avoided to avoid dark spots from forming around the injection area where there may be inflammation.
You can expect to see some results immediately after sclerotherapy treatment for varicose or spider veins, and more noticeable results within three to six weeks. Any large varicose veins may take three to four months to achieve full results and can potentially take multiple treatments to reach desired results. Multiple treatments will be scheduled 2 to 3 weeks apart. Results are permanent, but new varicose and spider veins can develop over time.