Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical, injection-based therapy that improves the appearance of varicose veins in the legs. The procedure involves the injection of a solution into spider veins (smaller, red-purple in color), and reticular veins (larger, blue-green), causing disruption to the internal lining of the vein. A very fine needle is used to inject the sclerosing solution into the vein with only very minimal discomfort. Most of our patients tend to describe the discomfort as mildly “annoying” rather than painful.
The sclerotherapy solution works by forming a fibrous clot, with the vein eventually being eliminated through the body’s own healing process. This procedure also helps prevent the reoccurrence or reappearance of spider veins by treating the nearby “feeder” veins.
During your initial consultation, your legs will be examined thoroughly. While many patients present with uncomplicated leg veins, occasionally patients may be referred to a specialist, known as a phlebologist for a complete evaluation, including an ultrasound exam. The sclerotherapy treatment usually takes approximately 30 minutes. This is followed by placement of compression dressings if needed. In some cases, support stockings are recommended for up to one week after each treatment.
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It is normal for the treated area to look worse before improvement is seen. Support stockings are used to reduce cosmetic downtime, improve healing times, and prevent recurrence of small vessels after treatment. After your initial sclerotherapy treatment, the treated veins will fade in appearance within a few weeks, but often it may take up to a month to see full results. Multiple treatments are usually required to achieve the desired outcome. Treatments are spaced 6 weeks or more apart to allow complete resolution of the veins treated during the previous session.
- If possible, prior to treatment, avoid anticoagulant medications, including Ibuprofen, Motrin, and Aspirin.
- Avoiding alcohol prior to treatment may reduce bruising.
- Avoid sun exposure prior to treatment for at least 3-4 weeks and for an additional 4-6 weeks after treatment.
- Be sure to wear the compression stockings for a full week after the treatment procedure.
- Wear the stockings continuously for the first 48 hours, removing only for a quick, lukewarm shower once daily.
- After the initial 48 hours, wear the stockings daily, from the time you rise in the morning, until bedtime.
- You may wash the stockings with a gentle detergent and allow them to dry overnight. Do not put them in the dryer.
- After the first week, we recommend that patients who stand for long periods of time or spend long hours on their feet continue to wear the stockings during those times.
- Itching will typically subside after a few hours. To help ease itching or discomfort, we recommend cool packs or a soothing gel.
- Avoid sun exposure for an additional 4-6 weeks after treatment. If sun exposure cannot be avoided, a physical sunblock that includes titanium dioxide or zinc oxide must be used. Sun exposure may exacerbate occasional pigmentation, causing it to last longer.
- Most patients experience bruising that lasts approximately 2-3 weeks after each treatment. This is followed by some mild pigmentation that can persist for a few weeks to up to a few months after each treatment. We will discuss this with you in order to plan your treatments accordingly.
- For the first 24-48 hours (after each treatment), please avoid the following:
- Aerobic or strenuous exercise. Although gentle walking is recommended and helps with the healing process.
- Avoid hot showers and baths for 24-48 hours after treatment. Quick, lukewarm showers are recommended.
The sclerotherapy procedure is performed by Jennifer Fick, FNP-C, CANS, a Board Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist. You can read more about Jennifer here or on her own website. Dr. Deschamps-Braly is on hand to consult in more complex cases if necessary.