Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to eliminate small varicose veins and spider veins.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to eliminate small varicose veins and spider veins. It involves using a very fine needle to inject a special solution directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to collapse and stick together and the blood to clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view. It is a proven procedure that has been in use since the 1930s. Benefits are that it is simple (when performed by an experienced doctor), relatively inexpensive and it does not require going to hospital or long downtime.
What types of veins can be treated?
Sclerotherapy is suitable for small spidery veins on the legs. It is not suitable for large, bumpy, swollen varicose veins – these may need other treatments or even surgery.
How well does sclerotherapy work?
The majority of patients who receive sclerotherapy treatment will be cleared of their varicosities or have significant visible improvement. However, like any medical treatment, there is no guarantee that sclerotherapy will be effective in every case. Approximately 10 % of patients who undergo sclerotherapy have poor to fair results. (“Poor results” indicating that the veins have not disappeared after six treatments.) In extremely rare cases, the patient’s condition may become worse after sclerotherapy treatment. Your doctor is there to help, so if you have questions or concerns, please ask.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments required can range from one to six, with the average number being three or four. Individual veins usually require one to three treatments.
What are the most common side effects?
The most common side effects experienced with sclerotherapy are:
– Itching: You may experience mild itching along the vein route. This normally last 1-2 days.
– Transient Hyperpigmentation: Approximately 30% of all patients who undergo sclerotherapy notice a light brown discoloration after treatment. Nearly all patients notice a darkening of the vein immediately after the procedure. In rare instances the darkening may persist for 4 to 12 months.
– Sloughing: Sloughing occurs in less than 3% of patients who have received sclerotherapy. Sloughing consists of a small, slowly healing ulceration at the injections site. A blister may form, open and become ulcerated. The scar that follows should return to a normal colour.
– Allergic Reactions: Very rarely a patient may have an allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent. This risk is greater in patients who have a history of allergic reactions.
– Pain: A few patients may experience moderate to severe pain and some bruising around the injection site. The veins may be tender to touch after the treatment and an uncomfortable sensation may be felt along the vein route. The pain is usually temporary lasting 1 to 7 days.
What are the other side effects?
Other possible side effects can include a burning sensation during injection of the solution, neovascularization (the temporary development of new, tiny blood vessels), transient phlebitis reactions (temporary swelling of the vein may cause the ankle to swell, temporary superficial blebs (similar to hives) and very rarely wound infection, poor healing or scarring.
Phlebitis is a very rare complication, seen in approximately 1 out of every 1000 patients who have been treated for veins greater than 3 or 4 mm in diameter. The dangers of phlebitis include the possibility of pulmonary embolus (a blood clot in the lungs) and post-phlebitic syndrome, in which the blood is not carried out of the legs, resulting in swelling of the legs.
What are the instructions for after a sclerotherapy procedure?
– Immediately after the procedure, you may be required to put on support hose and walk for 10-30 minutes. Be sure to have loose-fitting slacks/skirt and comfortable walking shoes with you.
– Taped Compression pads/cotton balls are gently removed 24 hours after your Sclerotherapy procedure (your Sclerotherapist will discuss the exact time with you).
– If you remove the tape prior to 24 hours, try and wear support hose.
– Maintain normal activities. You are encouraged to walk as much as possible and avoid standing in a single position for prolonged periods of time.
– Avoid strenuous physical activities such as high impact aerobics, running, weight lifting, for the first 48-72 hours following your treatment.
– Stay away from hot baths for 2 weeks, cool legs with cold water after each shower
– Avoid sunbathing and UV exposure for at least 1 week.
– Don’t go swimming in chlorinated pools for 48 hours following your treatment.
– Avoid blood-thinning medications, such as Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g.: Ibuprofen, Advil, Voltaren) for 24-48 hours following your treatment.
– Should you experience any redness or small bumps, use warm compresses several times a day. If you experience any open areas, you may use Polysporing Ointment (NOT Neosporin) to the affected area.
Remember to call us on 9286 9900 if you have any concerns or queries!
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