Sclerotherapy is often done for:
Cosmetic purposes — to improve the appearance of varicose and spider veins
clerotherapy effectively treats varicose and spider veins. It’s often considered the treatment of choice for small varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.
After sclerotherapy, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take a month or more to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.
Sclerotherapy results in few serious complications.
Temporary side effects
Some side effects that may occur at the site of the injection include:
- Raised red areas
- Small skin sores
- Darkened skin in the form of lines or spots
- Multiple tiny red blood vessels
These side effects usually go away within a few days to several weeks. Some side effects can take months or even years to disappear completely.
Side effects that may require treatment
Other complications are less common but may require treatment. These include:
- Inflammation. This is usually mild but may cause swelling, warmth and discomfort around the injection site. Your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to reduce the inflammation.
- Blood clot. A lump of clotted blood may form in a treated vein that may require drainage. Rarely, a blood clot may travel to a deeper vein in your leg (deep vein thrombosis).
- Deep vein thrombosis carries a risk of pulmonary embolism (a very rare complication of sclerotherapy), an emergency situation where the clot travels from your leg to your lungs and blocks a vital artery. Seek immediate medical care if you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain or dizziness, or you cough up blood.
- Air bubbles. Tiny air bubbles may rise in your bloodstream. These don’t always cause symptoms, but if they do, symptoms include visual disturbances, headaches, fainting and nausea. These symptoms generally go away but call your doctor if you experience problems with limb movement or sensation after the procedure.
- Allergic reaction. It’s possible that you may have an allergic reaction to the solution used for treatment, but this is uncommon.
|Before the procedure, avoid shaving or applying any lotion to your legs. (Don’t shave or use lotion after the procedure until the injection site is healed either.) Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. You might even consider wearing a pair of shorts so that your legs are exposed.
|After the procedure
You’ll be able to get up and walk around soon after the procedure. Walking and moving your legs is important to prevent the formation of blood clots.
You’ll be asked to wear compression stockings or bandages — usually for about two weeks — to maintain compression on the treated veins.
Most people return to their normal activities on the same day, but it may be wise to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Your doctor will probably advise you to avoid strenuous exercise for two weeks after the procedure.
You’ll also want to avoid sun exposure to the treated areas during that time. The inflammation caused by the injections combined with sun exposure can lead to dark spots on your skin, especially if you already have a dark skin tone.
If you were treated for small varicose veins or spider veins, you can usually expect to see definitive results in three to six weeks. Larger veins may require three to four months. However, multiple treatments may be needed to achieve the results you want.
Veins that respond to treatment generally don’t come back, but new veins may appear.
Your doctor will likely schedule a follow-up visit about a month after the procedure to determine how well the procedure worked and if you need more sessions. Generally, you need to wait about six weeks before undergoing another sclerotherapy session.