Spider veins- caused by broken capillaries and varicose veins- caused by broken valves in the veins are common conditions. 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 weak, allowing blood to pool inside the vein. As the pressure inside the vein increases, the vein enlarges. When the vein becomes large and or twisty and visible at the surface of the skin it is a varicose vein. If the vein appears to be a tiny blood vessel or broken capillary it is referred to as “telangiectasias” more commonly known as spider veins. Sclerotherapy is a safe and effective way to treat spider veins while varicose veins often require a different treatment method.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a technique that is used to treat spider veins and varicose veins.We recommend sclerotherapy for treating both small broken capillaries and the clusters of tiny blood vessels close to the surface of the skin that have a spider web like appearance. A solution is used to close the tiny vein and it is reabsorbed by the body.
Anyone who has spider veins is a good candidate for treatment although breastfeeding women should not breastfeed following treatment for 72 hours. While spider veins can cause discomfort and pain many patients are disturbed by the cosmetically unappealing appearance. While some patients may have a tiny patch of spider veins, others will have a more extensive number of these areas on their legs. At Vein Specialists of the Carolinas we may recommend that you have a complete evaluation with a standing ultrasound if we feel you may have a problem with damaged valved in your veins. In the event the valves are damaged it is best to treat the broken valves first to get the best results from sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution into the damaged vein with a very tiny needle. The solution damages the lining of the broken capillary which causes the vein to close. Your body naturally reabsorbs the vein and it disappears. At Vein Specialists of the Carolinas our professional sclerotherapist will determine which solution is best for your veins. Depending on the number and severity of your spider veins, more than one session may be required. When larger varicose veins are treated with sclerotherapy, the solution is foamed to completely fill the larger 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 session
- No downtime
- The vast majority of patients are very happy with the results
- Sclerotherapy is easier to tolerate and more effective than laser treatments
Recovery After Sclerotherapy
For the best results and to speed the healing process it is recommended that you wear compression sock as much as possible for 1-2 weeks following treatment. You should also avoid hot baths and sun exposure for 2 weeks following treatment.
- On a rare occasion when a large capillary is injected some blood may get trapped in the treated vein. When this happens it can be treated on the follow up appointment.
- On a rare occasion some patients may get staining along the line where the vein shuts down. In the very rare event this occurs we have a solution to treat the staining during your follow up appointment.
In most patients, sclerotherapy successful gets rid of more than 90% of the veins that are treated. Many patients will require a follow-up treatment to achieve this level of success depending on the number and severity of the spider veins. 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 weeks. While the veins treated are permanently closed many patients will develop more spider veins in the future and will need to come annually to keep their legs spider vein free.
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 have spider veins and would like to learn more about our sclerotherapy sessions, contact Vein Specialists of the Carolinas to schedule an appointment with one of our “Sclerotherapy Specialists”. We have two offices in North Carolina. Contact our Gastonia location at (704) 861-2072 and our Charlotte location at (704) 544-5245
At Vein Specialists of the Carolinas all we do is veins all day every day!