Varicose Vein Disease and specifically Spider Veins are most commonly treated by Sclerotherapy. The treatment involves injecting a ‘sclerosant’ solution directly into the vein.The goal of treatment is irreversible venous closure (fibrotic occlusion) followed by absorption of the vein. Venous blood is then redirected from the abnormal varicose vessel to healthy veins. As a result, leg discomfort and cosmetic appearance improves.
Both ‘liquid’ and ‘foam’ formulations are used. Liquid injection is used for smaller, surface veins. Foam injection has an increased potency and thus is used to treat larger veins. In addition, foam can be observed under ultrasound, in real time, for better precision. There are some reasons why you might not be a suitable candidate for this treatment, like if you are pregnant, have an allergy to sclerosant, have active clotting or bleeding episodes and immobility.
At your consultation, our venous expert will customize a treatment plan that is right for you. The number of treatments needed differs from patient to patient, depending on how many veins there are, and the patient’s expectations. For best results, three or four sessions are needed for most patients. Treatment sessions are scheduled at four-week intervals until the desired results are achieved.
Reasons for Sclerotherapy
Some of the reasons a patient may desire, or a physician may recommend, sclerotherapy may include one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain, aching or burning sensations in the legs or feet
- Swelling or redness at the site
- Cramping of the legs, especially at night
- Scaly, dry or discolored skin at the site
- Discomfort after sitting or standing for long periods
Individuals troubled by varicose and spider veins may choose, in consultation with their physician, to undergo sclerotherapy either because they find them unattractive or because the diseased veins are causing unpleasant and/or dangerous symptoms.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
If you’re over the age of 40, it’s likely you have some spider veins on your calves, thighs, and ankles you would like to get rid of. Sclerotherapy is a great solution to the problem.
Sclerotherapy is a simple treatment, and it doesn’t have any restrictions. The sclerosant solutions are well tolerated and very effective. So, if you have spider veins, you’re likely a great candidate for treatment with Dr. Sun.
The one exception would be if you have varicose veins, not spider veins. Varicose veins form for the same reasons as spider veins, but they are larger. They often push up the skin if closer to the surface, making a raised pathway on the surface. To close these veins off would require too much sclerosant. Laser ablation or microphlebectomy is a better treatment for varicose veins.
What Are the Benefits of Sclerotherapy?
Our patients are surprised at how simple these treatments with Dr. Sun are. A session takes just a few minutes, and a series of spider veins can be treated. Once the sclerosant is injected, the veins instantly become far less noticeable, often fully disappearing. Otherwise, they are diminished, and the body then fully removes them over time.
This is a simple way to remove these unsightly purple, blue, and red lines from your ankles, calves, and thighs.
The Sclerotherapy Procedure
During sclerotherapy, a solution of saline and a sclerosant is injected into the damaged veins. This will cause irritation in the affected veins and produce their eventual collapse. During this procedure, the surgeon is guided through the use of ultrasound to ensure precision. When the weakened veins collapse, they will be reabsorbed into the body and other healthier veins will take their place in the circulatory system.
Sclerotherapy has proven to be a safe procedure and is performed outpatient in the doctor's office. Typically, sclerotherapy is performed in less than an hour, although a varying number of injections may be required, depending on the number of veins involved. Patients do not require an anesthetic and usually report little or no discomfort during the procedure, only a mild burning sensation. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be necessary.
Before and After Sclerotherapy Treatment
If There Anything I Need To Do To Prepare for My Sclerotherapy Session?
There isn’t any preparation necessary. It helps to wear shorts or a skirt for easy access to the spider veins you want to remove.
How Long Does a Sclerotherapy Session Take?
These sessions with Dr. Sun usually take 30 minutes or less. Dr. Sun can treat a series of spider vein clusters in a single appointment.
What Happens After My Sclerotherapy Session?
Dr. Sun may recommend that you wear compression hose during waking hours for one to two weeks, depending on the number of spider veins you had treated in your session. This compression improves the body’s ability to immediately start absorbing these closed-off veins. Otherwise, walking and moderate exercise is fine immediately after your procedure. You should avoid any strenuous exercise for about one week, however.
How Soon Will I See My Results From Sclerotherapy?
Immediately after Dr. Sun delivers the sclerosant into and around the vein, the vein visibly diminishes. The color will change from a dark blue or purple to light red, and the vein will resemble a slight cat scratch. Over the next 4-6 weeks, the body will absorb the closed-off vein and it will disappear.
Recovery From Sclerotherapy
Patients are able to return home shortly after sclerotherapy. Most can return to work and resume normal activities the next day, although exercise and strenuous activities are to be avoided a week or two. Compression bandages usually need to be worn for a week or so after the procedure. While it may take up to a month for the patient to see full results, some improvement is usually visible immediately.
In order to promote vascular health and to preserve the positive effects of the sclerotherapy, it is recommended that patients maintain a healthy weight and make exercise part of their daily routine.
What Causes Spider Veins To Form?
Veins are the highways that return de-oxygenated blood to the heart. In the legs, veins must push uphill fighting gravity the entire way. Our muscles and tissues act to help push the blood through the veins, but as we age these tissues lose some of their strength, plus the vein walls become weaker. This combination allows the blood to sometimes backup and pool. This pushes the vein wall outward, making the vein visible through the outer skin. This is how spider veins and varicose veins form.
Other factors that can affect the formation of these veins are heredity, hormonal changes such as those during pregnancy, weight fluctuations, and occupations that require long periods of standing or sitting.
Risks of Sclerotherapy
Although sclerotherapy is a safe procedure that has been successfully performed for many years, there are certain risks associated with any medical procedure. Certain minimal, temporary side effects are to be expected, including bruising and discoloration. More serious complications are rare, but may include:
Swelling, warmth and discomfort around the injection site may indicate the presence of an infection for which the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
A lump of clotted blood may form in a treated vein and require drainage. Rarely, a deeper blood clot may develop, known as a deep vein thrombosis. Since there is danger that such a clot will break off and travel to the chest, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, such a clot requires urgent medical attention. Sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness or the coughing up of foamy blood are signs of pulmonary embolism and must be addressed immediately.
Tiny air bubbles may rise in the bloodstream. These may not result in any symptoms, but if the patient experiences visual disturbances, headache, coughing or nausea, the physician should be contacted.
Numbness or odd sensations in the affected limb following sclerotherapy should always be investigated.
While rare, it‘s possible for a patient to have a severe allergic reaction to the sclerosant used in the treatment.
What Happens if I Don’t Treat My Spider Veins?
Spider veins are almost always simply an aesthetic/cosmetic concern. No one wants to show off our legs in a new swimsuit when we have clusters of purple, blue, and red squiggly lines coursing about on them.
They are a result of aging and our support tissues not providing the best support any longer. Plus, the walls of our veins weaken.
But spider veins rarely cause any pain. And they aren’t a sign of a larger health problem. So, if you leave them in place, they’ll just be there for all to see.
Varicose veins that are large enough to push up the skin are a different story. They need to be attended to, as they can be a sign of possible serious issues with circulation to the lower legs and feet. They can be a sign of peripheral arterial disease.
Schedule a Sclerotherapy Consult With Dr. Sun!
To learn more about our Schedule Sclerotherapy treatment, or to determine if the procedure is right for you, please be sure to arrange a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Lucy Sun today! Call our office at (214) 556-8880 or click here to send our staff an Email Contact Form. Our practice is located in Dallas, TX. We look forward to serving you!