What is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure used to reduce the appearance of varicose veins and spider veins. The process involves injecting a solution directly into the veins with a thin needle. The solution damages the inner lining of the vein, causing a blood clot to develop. Within a few weeks to a couple of months, the clot is reabsorbed into surrounding tissue, and the vein disappears. Sometimes, multiple treatments are needed. Most patients return to their regular activities the day of the procedure, but should refrain from strenuous exercise for a couple of weeks, and avoid exposing the treated area to the sun for about a month. Wearing support or compression stockings for several weeks is also recommended to speed healing.

Will the procedure be painful?

Sclerotherapy should not be painful, although there may be a sensation of pressure. Before treatment begins, the skin in the treatment area will be numbed with a topical or injected anesthetic. The needles used to inject the solution are extremely fine in order to reach the interior of the tiny vessels, and any discomfort which is experienced is minimal.

What are varicose veins and venous insufficiency?

Varicose veins are the bulged and ropey-looking raised veins that appear on the legs. They are caused by high blood pressure in the superficial veins in the leg causing the veins to weaken and bulge, due to the blood pooling. This condition is referred to as venous insufficiency or reflux. Symptoms associated with varicose veins include fatigue or heaviness in the legs; some may experience restlessness or night cramps. The skin can change color, become irritated, or sores could develop. If left untreated, varicose veins can get worse over time and could lead to deep vein thrombosis. Some of the causes of varicose veins include:

  • Heredity
  • Long periods of standing (common for such professions: as hair stylists, nurses, and factory workers)
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of birth control pills
  • Prolonged sitting with legs crossed
  • A history of blood clots
  • Hormone replacement after menopause