How Does Sclerotherapy Work?


Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment procedure for spider veins and varicose veins. It involves the injection of solutions or sclerosing agents into the affected veins. Apart from helping spider and varicose veins disappear, sclerotherapy also treats the pain that is a result of the damaged veins. According to statistics, more than 324,000 Americans underwent sclerotherapy procedures in 2017.

Who qualifies for a sclerotherapy procedure?

Not everyone suffering from spider or varicose veins qualifies for a sclerotherapy procedure. For instance, your physician may advise you against it if you are pregnant. A sclerotherapy procedure may be recommended if:

  • The affected area is painful or achy
  • Presence of a rash near the affected veins
  • The varicose veins on the feet make the legs feel heavy and sore

You should discuss your symptoms with a vascular specialist or a dermatologist who will advise you on the most suitable treatment method.

What to expect during a sclerotherapy procedure?

Depending on how severe your condition is, this procedure could take 20 minutes to one hour. The procedure does not necessarily require the use of anesthesia. Your doctor may advise you against the use of some types of drugs, applying lotions and oils or shaving the affected area before the procedure.

If the procedure is being carried out on your legs, the doctor will have you lie back and elevate your feet. They will then clean the area and insert the needle into the affected area to introduce the sclerosing agent. The most common sclerosing agents include:

  • Hypertonic saline solutions
  • Sodium tetradecyl sulfate
  • Polidocanol

The agent causes the injected vein to seal itself so that blood is redirected to other unaffected veins. With time, the damaged vein will be absorbed by the body, thus making it less noticeable and uncomfortable.

You may feel a little tender or bruise after the injection, but recovery is rather fast. Your doctor will advise you on whether you need any follow-up treatments.

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