Sclerotherapy for Varicose & Spider Veins
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of special medications into varicose veins which cause irritation of their inner walls resulting in collapse and permanent closure of these veins. The majority of varicose veins can be treated by sclerotherapy. Even the saphenous veins may be removed by this method. Sclerotherapy is done in the doctor’s office and does not require loss of time from work or other activities. It does not entail anesthesia and there is no scarring.
What Can I Expect From Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy requires several treatment sessions, depending on your individual needs. Each session takes about one half-hour and involves from 5 to 40 injections, according to the size and number of veins. Most patients find the injections minimally uncomfortable – like a pin prick. Bruising is normal and will fade in 2-3 weeks. There is no need for time off work and moderate exercise is encouraged following treatment. When a larger vein is injected, a compression pad will be applied and a compression stocking must be worn for five days.
Are There Any Complications?
When larger veins are injected, it is fairly common to develop a firm, tender cord or lumps along the vein. This is normal and simply indicates the vein has responded to the injection. Occasionally, a brownish pigmentation may develop in the skin overlying a treated vein. This gradually fades over a period of several months, but in unusual instances, some discolouration remains. There are several rare but potentially serious complications. As with the use of any medication, allergic reactions can occur, ranging from a slight rash or itch to a severe systemic reaction. There have been occasional reports of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in the medical literature. It is remotely possible to inject an artery or infuse medication outside a vein. This can result in a skin ulcer or loss of tissue with resultant scarring. When foam medication is used to treat veins, patients occasionally notice brief visual symptoms, dry cough or migraine headache.
Your First Visit
You will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about your problem and your general health history. Following this, the nurse will review your medical history with you and obtain your blood pressure and leg measurements. The doctor will then examine your legs from groin to toes and check the blood flow in your legs with Doppler ultrasound. A colour flow duplex ultrasound assessment may be arranged to provide a detailed map of your venous function and anatomy. Finally, the diagnosis of your problem will be reviewed with you and your treatment plan will be discussed.
Will the Varicose Veins Recur?
The veins treated by sclerotherapy are destroyed and cannot reappear again unless the treatment has been incomplete. However, sclerotherapy cannot alter your inherited tendency to form new varicosities.
How Will the Blood Circulate?
Many patients ask how the blood will get back to the heart after the veins have been closed by sclerotherapy. In fact, 90% of our blood return is handled by the deep venous system, which is never treated. Only the superficial veins, which carry 10% of the blood, can become varicosed. Moreover, varicose veins are not functioning properly so the blood has already found other veins to circulate through.
Helpful Hints for Treatment:
- Avoid aspirin for one week to reduce bruising
- Do not wax or shave your legs the day of treatment
- Avoid using skin lotion prior to treatment (tape will not stick)
- Remember to bring your compression stockings
- Re-schedule if ill with fever
- Avoid injections for two week period prior to vacation or travel
- Eat regular meals to prevent feeling faint
- Wear support hose (or tensor) for 5 to 7 days
- Walk for 10 minutes immediately following the injections
- Walk or exercise regularly between treatments but avoid high impact exercise, straining or weight lifting for days
- Elevate your legs for 10 minutes following the injections before getting off the treatment table
- If legs are uncomfortable, walk for 20 minutes, then elevate
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily
- Avoid sun tanning and hot baths or showers in the week after treatment
- Apply ice to lumpy, healing veins if tender
- If you have concerns, including pain, swelling, rash or hives call the office at 220-9353.