What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is used as a treatment for reticular and spider veins. Spider veins appear when the vein walls weaken and blood pools in the vein which leads to swelling. Spider veins can be painful and make the legs feel sore and heavy. Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure with injections given directly into the vein. The injections cause the vein to become irritated and inflamed which blocks blood flow to the area. A scar will form in the vein causing the vein to close up or shrink and healthy blood vessels will absorb the extra blood. 50 to 80 percent of the injected veins will be removed after each session.
What type of solution is being injected?
The sclerosants, or the solutions being used for the injections, can be broken up into three categories – Osmotic agents, detergents, and irritants.
Osmotic agents affect the cell wall through dehydration. This is typically the most well-known sclerosant, specifically in the United States. It is common to experience pain and cramping when using this solution. It also has a higher risk for a hematoma if the veins are extravagated.
Detergent solutions break down the cell wall through protein theft denaturation. This solution can be the most effective because it is able to treat all vein sizes. It also acts very quickly and can be effective within minutes!
Irritant solutions use many different mechanisms of action to destroy cell walls. This type of solution is less common and sometimes can be more dangerous.
How should I prepare for the treatment?
Before your procedure, make sure you contact your doctor about your current medication regimen. It is important to avoid certain antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or prednisone. You will also be asked to avoid lotion and wear loose-fitting clothes.
After the procedure, it is still best to avoid anti-inflammatory medications and you will be advised to take Tylenol if needed for pain relief. Also, remember to avoid hot baths, wash injections sites, and avoid direct exposure to sunlight.
Are there any risks?
Just like any procedure, there are a few risks to look out for. Infection is a risk for any procedure where the skin is breached. The chance of this procedure causing the infection is very small. Other risks may include the formation of blood clots in the vein and adverse allergic reactions to the solution.
If you are looking for smooth legs, less noticeable veins, and even skin tones, this treatment may be for you!