Sclerotherapy is a procedure used for treating varicose and spider veins. Varicose and spider veins are common vascular problems that mainly affect women.
Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins that occur in legs, but can also appear in other parts of the body. They are usually dark purple or blue. Spider veins are thin, red veins that can appear on the legs and the face, especially around mucous membranes. They resemble a spider web hence their name.
Several factors contribute to varicose and spider veins and some of them are: heredity, standing or sitting for long periods of time and obesity. Sclerotherapy effectively removes spider veins and smaller varicose veins. This procedure is not an option in case of pregnancy or on veins that can be used for heart bypass surgery unless they are damaged beyond any possible use.
Sclerotherapy consists of injecting a solution of concentrated salt and several other ingredients directly into the varicose vein. This solution scars the lining of the vein, making it swell and close thus preventing the blood from passing through it. In time, the treated vein slowly disintegrates and is absorbed by the surrounding tissue. The blood circulating through it is naturally redirected to healthy veins. Sclerotherapy is a noninvasive treatment as the whole procedure can be performed at the doctor’s office without anesthetic. Apart from causing some degree of discomfort, slcerotherapy is not a painful procedure. After it has been finished, you can go home on your own, as walking is recommended in order to avoid forming blood clots. Wearing compression stockings is also part of the treatment. 48 hours after the procedure, taking ibuprofen, aspirin and similar anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided. It is important to state that in certain cases several sclerotherapy sessions may be required. A session of sclerotherapy lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. Apart from traditional sclerotherapy during which a liquid solution is injected, there is a new technique called foam sclerotherapy. Foamed drugs are injected into the vein and this technique is even more efficient than the traditional slcerotherapy because it leads to vein sclerosis faster.
This treatment is deemed effective, and according to research between 50% and 80% of treated abnormal veins can be removed per session of sclerotherapy. Still, approximately 10% of patients do not respond to this procedure. Spider veins disappear within about three to six weeks, while varicose veins sometimes take about four months.