Resources

Q

What is sclerotherapy?

A

Sclerotherapy is a safe, proven and effective non-surgical procedure used to treat various sizes of veins. Sclerotherapy is a simple technique performed in the interventional radiologist’s office.In addition to offering obvious cosmetic results without scarring, sclerotherapy eliminates the burning, aching and discomfort often caused by varicose veins. With the availability of sclerotherapy, it is no longer necessary to strip varicose veins extensively, a technique resulting in multiple scars and a significant recurrence rate.

Q

Who are the best candidates for sclerotherapy?

A

Women of any age may be good candidates for sclerotherapy, but most fall between 30 – 60 years old. In some women, spider veins may become noticeable in the teen years. For others, the veins may not become obvious until later in life or after child bearing. These long-term visible varicosities may actually be a sign that there are greater venous insufficiency issues that, if left untreated, could lead to swelling, pain, pigment change, or ultimately ulceration. Spider veins in men aren’t nearly as common as they are in women.

Men who do have spider veins often don’t consider them to be a cosmetic problem because the veins are usually concealed by hair growth on the leg. However, sclerotherapy is just as effective for men.

Q

What is the sclerotherapy procedure like?

A

Prior to the procedure, you will have an initial consultation to determine if you are eligible for sclerotherapy. This includes an ultrasound of the veins to evaluate the full extent of the problem causing the spider veins. The doctor’s goal is to find the largest vein, which is likely at the root of the problem. This larger vein must be treated before sclerotherapy is performed. If the vein causing the problems is not treated first, other spider veins will appear after the sclerotherapy is complete.

During sclerotherapy, the patient will lie on a table. No sedation is required because there is not a significant amount of discomfort during this procedure. The doctor will make small injection of irritating solution into the vein, which causes the vein to close. The vein then disappears as it is absorbed by the body through the body’s natural healing mechanism.

After each sclerotherapy session, the veins will appear lighter. Two or more sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results. Patients also should be aware that the procedure treats only those veins that are currently visible; it does nothing to permanently alter the venous system or prevent new veins from surfacing in the future.

Q

How long does the sclerotherapy procedure take?

A

This depends on the number of veins being treated. On average, the total procedure takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Each injection is extremely quick, lasting approximately 5 to 10 seconds.

Q

How safe is sclerotherapy?

A

Complications from sclerotherapy are extremely rare when the procedure is performed by a qualified interventional radiologist. However, it is possible for complications to occur. Risks include the formation of blood clots in the veins, severe inflammation, adverse allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution and skin injury that could leave a small but permanent scar.

Q

Are there any side effects of the sclerotherapy treatment?

A

A common cosmetic complication is an irregular coloring on the skin – brownish splotches on the affected skin that may take months to fade, sometimes up to a year. Another problem that can occur is fine, reddish blood vessels appearing around the treated area, which would require further injections.


You can reduce the risks associated with treatment by choosing a doctor who has adequate training in sclerotherapy and is well versed in the different types of sclerosing agents available.

Q

How long do the effects of the sclerotherapy treatment last?

A

The effects of the treatment usually last six weeks for an average case of small vein disease and 8-9 weeks for larger varicose veins. Studies have shown that as many as 50-80% of injected veins may be eliminated with each session of sclerotherapy.

Less than 10% of the people who have sclerotherapy do not respond to the injections at all. In these instances, you should ask your doctor about other options. Although this procedure works for most patients, there are no guarantees for success.

Q

Will I need repeat the sclerotherapy procedure to maintain or improve my look?

A

The affect of sclerotherapy lasts for approximately two years if the whole spectrum of venous insufficiency is thoroughly reviewed and treated appropriately. After two years, there may be some recurrence, but it usually is never as bad as the initial presentation. The veins that may return also can be treated with sclerotherapy.

Q

Are there any other procedures for the treatment of spider veins?

A

If sclerotherapy is not successful for your situation, a procedure called stab phlebectomy may be another option. This is involves the use of a special local anesthetic that is injected into the area surrounding your vein. The doctor then removes the entire problem vein through a small incision.

Q

Does my insurance provider cover this procedure?

A

A number of insurance companies are paying for vein procedures. For more information about this procedure or if you have insurance questions, please contact us at 513-527-9999.