Spider veins and varicose are common conditions that are caused by flaws in the veins. Normally a valve in the vein prevents the blood from flowing backward as it returns to the heart. Aging, genetics, and other factors can make the valve less effective, allowing blood to pool inside the vein. As the pressure inside the vein increases, the vein enlarges. The vein becomes visible at the surface of the skin. Sclerotherapy is a safe and effective way to treat spider and varicose veins.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a technique that is used for spider veins and varicose veins. We recommend sclerotherapy for treating damaged superficial veins, also known as saphenous veins. These types of veins are found just below the skin. The treatment permanently destroys the vein so that it is not visible just below the skin.
Most candidates for sclerotherapy are between 30 and 60 years old and in good health. You will need to follow careful instructions after the treatment or have someone help you with aftercare. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should wait for at least three months after stopping breastfeeding. We may recommend that you be screened for any underlying medical conditions that may cause back flow in the veins.
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution into the damaged vein. An intravenous drug is introduced to the vein that damages the lining which causes the blood to clot in the vein. Your body naturally routes blood through the surrounding healthy veins, and the clot gradually disappears. Over time, your body absorbs the vein, and blood is routed through surrounding veins. For larger varicose veins, the solution is mixed with a foam to completely fill the vein.
At Vein Specialists of the Carolinas we use a vein light to help identify the best area to inject large clusters of spider veins.
Benefits of Sclerotherapy
- Several veins are treated with a single injection
- No downtime
- Easy, comfortable procedure
- Produces less discomfort compared to laser treatments
Recovery After Sclerotherapy
You should avoid strenuous activities after your sclerotherapy treatment, as well as hot baths and sun exposure. You will wear compression stockings or garments for at least two weeks to help with blood circulation and reduce the likelihood of complications, such as:
- Blood trapped in the treated vein
- Staining of the skin caused by blood escaping from the treated vein
- Skin ulcerations
In most patients, sclerotherapy successful damages approximately 80% of the veins that are treated, so you may need a follow-up treatment. Pharmaceutical use requirements limit the amount of the solution that can be administered in a single day. If you have a larger series of spider veins or varicose veins, we may require multiple appointments over the course of a few days.
Limitations of Sclerotherapy
- Since only about 80% of veins that get injected will be damaged enough to permanently disappear, some veins will have to be injected more than once.
- There is a daily limit to the amount of sclerosant.
- Multiple sessions may be required to get all veins treated.
Risks Associated with Sclerotherapy
- Trapped blood: This occurs when a segment of vein remains open between sealed segments, “trapping” blood in the vein. The patient may feel a tender lump in this area. Trapped blood usually can be removed by a small puncture and is easily treated on a follow-up visit. Unreleased trapped blood can cause staining.
- Staining: This is when a light brown discoloration of skin is overlying a treated vein. This may take several weeks to months to resolve and can be permanent is some patients. Darker pigmented skins stain more than lighter skins. Staining cannot be predicted or prevented. Lasers that remove tattoos can remove stubborn staining.
- Skin ulceration is extremely rare.
- Our preferred solutions are Glycerin, Sotradecol (STS) liquid and foam, and Polidocanol foam
Schedule a Consultation
If you would like to learn more about sclerotherapy and find out if the treatment is right for you, contact Vein Specialists of the Carolinas to schedule a consultation. We have two offices in North Carolina, and you can contact our Gastonia location at (704) 861-2072 and our Charlotte location at (704) 544-5245