What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a versatile method of treating varicose veins and spider veins in which a medication, called a sclerosant, is injected into the damaged vein through a small needle. For larger veins (varicose veins), sclerotherapy is performed under ultrasound guidance. For smaller veins (spider and reticular veins), the procedure is done visually because ultrasound guidance is not necessary. The sclerosant causes the treated vein to close down and, with time, the abnormal vein is resorbed by the body. The blood is rerouted from the damaged to normal functioning veins. Tennessee Vein Center uses two proven sclerosants, polidocanol and sodium tetradecyl sulfate. These sclerosants are much more effective and do not cause the burning and cramping that is associated “saline” injections. Experts consider sclerotherapy to be the Gold Standard treatment for small to moderate sized leg veins.
What are the Advantages of Sclerotherapy?
- It is a versatile treatment for various types and sizes of varicose and spider veins
- Nearly pain-free when small needles are used with a non-saline sclerosant
- No surgical incisions or scars
- Often covered by insurance (when criteria are met)
- Can be done on patients of any skin type or color
Do I Need These Veins?
One of the more common questions regarding treatment of varicose and spider veins is, “Do I need these veins?” The answer is NO for several reasons:
- These damaged veins are not functioning properly to return blood back to the heart
- Varicose and spider veins cause damage to other good veins
- Refluxing veins are often “stealing” blood that should be directed back to the heart, causing healthy veins to try to compensate for the damaged ones
- In addition to having miles of superficial veins in your leg, you also have a deep set of veins within the muscle
- In other words, varicose and spider veins are not functioning properly, they are working against the healthy veins and they can cause damage to the healthy veins.
What Should I Expect With Sclerotherapy?
The first step in the evaluation of varicose veins or symptoms suggestive of venous insufficiency is to schedule a medical consultation with Tennessee Vein Center. As part of the consultation, we will determine if full evaluation with duplex venous ultrasound and venous mapping is appropriate. Once you have been fully evaluated, a tailored treatment plan will be provided. For some patients just visual sclerotherapy is needed, while others may require ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy in conjunction with endovenous laser treatment (ELT) and/or visual sclerotherapy. Most insurers require a documented trial of conservative treatment prior to approving the ELT procedure. As part of the evaluation, you will be measured for or prescribed medical-grade compression hose.
On the day of the procedure, you should:
- Avoid the use of lotion on the legs
- Wear or bring a pair of loose-fitting shorts (We can provide disposable shorts if needed)
- Bring your compression hose
- Drink plenty of water on the day of treatment
- Remember it is fine to eat on the day of the procedure, but you may want to avoid eating a heavy meal just prior to treatment and you may want to consider a light snack if it has been several hours since you last ate.
What Should I Expect After Sclerotherapy?
- Immediately after the procedure, we will let your legs rest for 5 minutes prior to having you put on your compression hose.
- It is important for you to wear your medical-grade compression hose for 2-3 days after the procedure. Compression hose help your circulation and serve to reduce swelling, reduce inflammation, reduce complications, and speed healing.
- During this healing process walking and normal daily activities are strongly encouraged.
- Bruising, minor soreness, and tenderness along the course of the treated vein(s) is common.
- If needed, the mild discomfort can be relieved by an over the counter pain reliever.
- You can resume normal daily activities immediately after the procedure, but you should avoid extremely strenuous activities for a few days.