If you’re self-conscious about the appearance of your varicose or spider veins or find that they cause discomfort, pain, and cramping in your legs, it’s time to explore treatment options. One common treatment method is known as sclerotherapy. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about sclerotherapy, including a couple variations of this popular treatment.
Your doctor can treat both varicose and spider veins with sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into your problematic veins. The solution from the injection then causes scar tissue to form in the vein. This scar tissue will reroute the vein’s blood flow to healthy veins, basically starving the troublesome veins of blood.
Without the flow of blood, your body’s surrounding tissues will start to absorb the vein. The vein fades completely over the next few weeks. It may take a few sclerotherapy sessions to achieve your desired results.
Your board-certified vascular surgeon will evaluate you to determine what treatment option is right for you. There are different types of injections used in sclerotherapy depending on your evaluation, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Liquid sclerotherapy injections use a liquid solution to penetrate the veins. Other types of sclerotherapy treatments use a foam solution for their injections. The foam solution is similar to the liquid alternatives, but it contains air or another chemical to give the solution a voluminous texture.
There are key differences between liquid and foam sclerotherapy solutions. Liquid injections mix with your blood to trigger the formation of scar tissue. The foam injections remain separate from your blood. The foam displaces your blood so that it can’t flow through your veins. Foam injections also contain less sclerosing agent (the chemical that causes the death of the vein), making them a good option for patients who want to eradicate their veins with minimal chemicals.
While both liquid and foam sclerotherapy solutions are effective at eliminating your veins, one type of solution might be more effective for the types of veins in your legs. Since the foam solution covers a larger surface area, it usually works better for large or long veins.
The side effects for both types of injections are minimal. It’s common to experience bruising, redness, and soreness around the site of your injection. These side effects usually go away within a few weeks.
What to Expect
Depending on the placement of your veins, your doctor may use an ultrasound machine to properly locate them for your injections. Most patients find the injections relatively painless, though you might experience a small amount of burning, tingling, or discomfort. The injections often contain a small amount of numbing agent to minimize any pain related to the procedure.
Your doctor will clean the area before administering the injection. Once the solution is in your veins, expect your doctor to massage the area to help distribute the solution.
Most patients are free to resume normal activities after the treatment. Walking and light activity are encouraged because they help prevent the formation of blood clots.