Varicose veins can cause itching, pain, cramping, and discoloration. Spider veins are smaller and less severe than varicose veins. Varicose veins are more common in women than in men, although anyone can get them.
Why Choose Sclerotherapy
The main purpose of sclerotherapy is to help people with spider or varicose veins reduce symptoms associated with those conditions, as well as improve the physical appearance of the affected areas.
Choosing an appropriate treatment depends on your preference and specific symptoms. That said, you may consider doing sclerotherapy because it’s a less invasive procedure. It may significantly help both your symptoms and the appearance of veins that you won’t need further surgical intervention.
Approved Treatment Areas for Sclerotherapy
The most common areas for varicose veins to develop are on your legs and feet. The affected veins may be raised, discolored, or swollen, and some may be deeper under the skin and can cause discomfort. Spider veins are smaller in size, are located closer to the surface of the skin, and can appear red, purple, or blue.
Depending on the size of the damaged veins, sclerotherapy can be used to treat varicose and spider veins in the following areas:
• face (frequently the sides of the nose)
How Sclerotherapy Works
Depending on the severity of the condition, sclerotherapy treatment for venous problems can take about 30-45 minutes. If you’re getting treatment on your legs, your provider may have you lie on your back with your legs elevated.
The procedure begins with your provider cleaning the skin around the targeted veins. With a fine needle, your provider will inject the damaged vein with a sclerosing agent, such as:
• sodium tetradecyl sulfate
• hypertonic saline solutions
The liquid or foam solution causes the walls of the injected vein to seal shut, so blood is redirected to unaffected veins. Over time, your body absorbs the damaged vein, making it less visible and uncomfortable.
Based on the size of the treated vein or veins, you may need up to four treatments.
How to Prepare for Sclerotherapy
First, you’ll have a consultation. Next, you may be advised to do the following:
• Avoid certain medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin (Bufferin), to reduce your risk of bleeding. These medications can affect your blood’s clotting process.
• Avoid applying lotion or shaving your legs before sclerotherapy to decrease irritation.
• Try compression stockings. You may be required to wear them for several days after the procedure.
• Notify your healthcare professional about other medical issues you have before your procedure.
What to Expect After Sclerotherapy
There is little to no downtime associated with sclerotherapy. You’ll most likely be able to return to your everyday activities immediately. You may also be advised to do the following:
• Wear compression socks or stockings during the day, except when showering or sleeping.
• Take acetaminophen-based pain medicine such as Tylenol to treat any pain or discomfort.
• Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen.
• Avoid sunlight, hot baths, saunas, swimming pools, and the beach during the first 2 days after treatment.
• Stay active to reduce the chance of blood clots. However, you should avoid aerobic exercise, such as running and weightlifting, for a couple of days.
• In some instances, you might be advised not to fly for several days.
Smaller varicose veins and spider veins respond best to sclerotherapy. You may be able to see improvement within a few weeks of treatment. For larger varicose veins, the visual improvement can take up to 4 months.
You may need several sessions to completely eliminate varicose or spider veins. It’s important to have realistic expectations about the effectiveness of sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy doesn’t guarantee that there will be no visible traces or side effects of varicose or spider veins after the procedure.
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