Sclerotherapy is a treatment that gets rid of unsightly, possibly painful spider and varicose veins. It uses a material injected into the veins to cause scarring and close them off. The blood that runs through these veins is rerouted to other, healthier veins, and the spider or varicose veins disappear.
Veins bring blood that’s been depleted of oxygen from the rest of the body toward the lungs and heart, where the blood is reinvigorated with oxygen and pumped back out to the body. Veins have to contend with gravity, and to do so they have valves that make sure the blood only travels one way.
When these valves fail, blood pools in the veins, causing them to stretch out and become misshapen and distended. Sclerotherapy addresses these problems by closing off the damaged veins. They form scars on the inside (sclero– means “scarring”), collapse and are reabsorbed into the tissue around them.
Instead, a small amount of sealant is injected into the vein. Over time, the vein becomes closed off and blood is rerouted to healthier veins. The process takes minutes, and patients can leave our office and get right back to their daily activities.
Candidates for sclerotherapy are those who have spider veins or small varicose veins (larger varicose veins may not respond as well to sclerotherapy). Candidates do not have any blood-clotting conditions, are not pregnant and are willing to follow the doctor’s pre- and post-procedure instructions.
Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure—no hospital stay necessary—that is performed in our office. The procedure usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
First, you’ll be seated in a comfortable position. The injection site will be cleaned. Then the doctor will insert a small needle into the vein and deliver the solution, either a liquid or foam. At our practice we mix the solution with lidocaine, a local anesthetic, for maximum patient comfort.
At New Jersey Weight Loss & Surgery and New York Weight Loss & Surgery, we use ultrasound to guide our injections to exactly where they need to be. Ultrasound enables us to target veins deep in the legs, veins that may not be seen from the surface but are nevertheless causing symptoms.
Once the solution has been fully injected, the doctor will massage the area over the vein to spread it out. There might be slight pain with the needle, or minor irritation once the solution is injected, but the sclerotherapy procedure is mild and well-tolerated by most patients.
After the procedure, patients can leave the office and resume normal activities immediately. Spider veins and smaller varicose veins will usually fade in three to six weeks. Large varicose veins may take longer—up to four months.
More than one session may be needed to fully get rid of veins. Each session usually eliminates between 50 and 80 percent of treated veins.
After the session, patients should wear compression stocking for about three weeks. It is important to avoid excessive sun exposure after a sclerotherapy procedure, since it can cause dark spots.
Side effects are generally mild and go away after a period of days or weeks. Side effects usually are limited to the injection site and can include:
If you are troubled by varicose veins, spider veins or venous insufficiency, request an appointment at New Jersey Weight Loss & Surgery or New York Weight Loss & Surgery. Dr. Arad can check your vein health in the initial consultation and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you.