Leg Vein Treatments (Sclerotherapy)
Sclerotherapy is the removal of abnormal leg veins by injection of a solution. Using what is called the micro-injection technique, spider veins are injected with a sclerosing solution which irritates the wall of the blood vessel causing them to dissolve. The body slowly absorbs the abnormal veins over a time period of approximately 8 weeks. Regardless of the type of sclerotherapy solution used, most spider and varicose veins require more than one treatment. This is particularly true for large collections of veins. Keep in mind that the fading of spider veins is a slow process which may take weeks to complete.
As with all procedures, there are side effects which can occur and that you need to be aware of. Just after the treatment, the veins themselves will appear dark purple due to the irritating effect of the solution. There may also be small bruises and areas resembling bug bites on the surface of the skin due to the injections. These will resolve fairly quickly, but any large firm bruise should be reported to the office immediately. In some individuals, a brown stain may develop where the vein has disappeared. This is due to the iron pigment that is in blood which gets deposited in the skin after the vein has dissolved. Brown stains are not really a complication, but a result of the body's natural healing response after sclerotherapy. Brown staining may take months to resolve; so be patient, as it will fade.
There are several do's and don'ts before the procedure. Do not take an aspirin, Vitamin E or ibuprofen for one week prior to the procedure as they can contribute to bruising. Alcohol consumption will cause bruising and should be avoided the week before the treatment. Don't shave or use any moisturizing lotions the day of the procedure. Aftercare is an important part of sclerotherapy. When you leave the office, you may have pressure dressings on all of the treated areas. Wear loose clothing on the day of your appointment to accommodate the dressings. You need to purchase a good pair of compression type support hose, full to waist, 30 mm Hg, which you will need to wear home the day of treatment. It is best to wear support hose for 14 days after each treatment to achieve maximum results. You will need to avoid strenuous aerobic exercise for 10 days, but you can return to your usual non-strenuous daily activities the following day.
Treatment sessions are best done at 8 week intervals. In most cases, after three treatments, significant clearing has occurred. There are some patients who do not respond to sclerotherapy, but this is unusual and unpredictable. The majority of patients who have sclerotherapy are pleased with the results and will come back for periodic touch-ups as needed. While we can obliterate the veins you have, we cannot stop you from making new spider veins. The tendency to make spider veins seems to be inherited and may be exacerbated by pregnancy.
Appointments for sclerotherapy are scheduled at specific times of the day, as the procedure is time consuming and takes anywhee from 1-2 hours. Please specify to the receptionist when you call that you are going to have sclerotherapy so that she can schedule you at the right appointment time. As the procedure is not covered by insurance, you will be required to pay in full for each treatment on the day that it is performed. Your fee per treatment will be quoted during your initial consultation, but please be advised that each treatment session is charged separately.