For nearly a century now, sclerotherapy has been used as an effective treatment for varicose veins and spider veins. During the treatment, a saline solution (also known as a sclerosing agent) is injected directly into the unwanted bulging veins. This eventually causes the vein to collapse and then gradually disappear as it becomes scar tissue underneath the skin. This might sound complicated, risky, or painful, but that’s not the case. To get a better grasp on this treatment for varicose veins so you know it’s right for you, let’s go over exactly what you can expect when undergoing sclerotherapy.
Generally speaking, most people can undergo sclerotherapy treatment with minimal risk. However, there are certain circumstances that might increase the potential for complications related to this procedure. This is why your doctor or dermatologist must play a part in deciding whether or not you’re a good candidate for sclerotherapy. For instance, those who are pregnant should not receive this treatment. Also, those with certain allergies, prior blood clots, or who are on certain medications may not be eligible for sclerotherapy either. Your doctor will take your individual situation and history into account before recommending this treatment.
If you are a candidate for sclerotherapy, it’s important to maintain clear expectations regarding pain and discomfort. Every patient has different levels of pain tolerance, so the injection may cause more or less discomfort depending on the patient, the location of their varicose or spider veins, and if the medication leaks into nearby tissue. Most patients describe the feeling as a cramping sensation. That said, any discomfort often fades shortly, only lasting a few minutes at most.
Unlike certain other medical procedures, sclerotherapy usually only takes about 15-30 minutes from start to finish, so it doesn’t take up a big chunk of anyone’s day.
Of course, while a single round of sclerotherapy doesn’t take more than a half-hour, repeat visits are often required to achieve the best results and really do away with the appearance of bulging, darkened veins. In some cases, four or more treatments are necessary to restore the skin’s smooth appearance.
While sclerotherapy is one of the most effective varicose veins treatments, it doesn’t produce results right away. It can take several months for veins to begin to fade. Spider veins, which are smaller and thinner, usually start disappearing in a month or so (three to six weeks), while larger varicose veins might not respond for four to six months. Therefore, it takes some time to know whether or not more treatments are necessary.
Sclerotherapy is a relatively low-risk procedure, and to reduce risk, your doctor or dermatologist will make sure you’re a good candidate for the treatment before recommending it. However, there are certain side effects related to sclerotherapy, some more common than others. Among these common side effects are bruising, swelling, redness, discoloration, and mild lingering discomfort. In rarer circumstances, this treatment can also trigger an allergic reaction, ulceration, and/or blood clotting. Your dermatologist will be prepared to deal with any of these potential outcomes.
Not only is the procedure itself fast, so too is the time to recover. Most patients can easily get back on their feet shortly after the treatment. Indeed, your doctor may encourage you to do some walking (but to avoid strenuous aerobic activity for a few days). If the treatment was directed at veins in or around your legs, your doctor may also recommend that you wear compression stockings to encourage blood flow and speed up the healing process.
The last thing to know about sclerotherapy is that your insurance may not cover the procedure, as it is often seen as cosmetic and not a serious medical concern. That said, if your varicose veins are causing or related to other medical concerns, your insurance may cover some of your treatment. Talking with your doctor can help you determine the total costs of sclerotherapy.
Now that you have your expectations in order, you can start figuring out whether sclerotherapy might be right for you. If you need more information, Premier Dermatology Partners is happy to provide expert advice on this topic and much more. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.