Sclerotherapy effectively treats varicose and spider veins. It's often considered the treatment of choice for small varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.
After sclerotherapy, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take a month or more to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.
Why it's done
Sclerotherapy is often done for:
Cosmetic purposes — to improve the appearance of varicose and spider veins
The procedure can also improve related symptoms such as:
If you're pregnant or breast-feeding, doctors recommend waiting to have sclerotherapy done.
Sclerotherapy results in few serious complications.
How you prepare
Before the procedure, your doctor performs a physical exam and gathers your medical history.
Your doctor will:
Evaluate the involved veins
Check for any underlying blood vessel disease
Your doctor will want to know your medical history, including asking about any:
Recent illnesses or existing medical conditions, such as a heart condition or a past history of blood clots
Medications or supplements you take, especially aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), blood thinners, iron supplements or herbal supplements
Previous treatment for varicose veins and the results of the treatment
If you take aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or blood thinners, your doctor may instruct you on how to stop taking the medication for a certain amount of time before the procedure, to reduce the chances of bleeding.
Depending on which veins are involved, your doctor may request ultrasound imaging on the veins in your legs. Ultrasound is a painless procedure that uses sound waves to produce images of structures inside the body.
The day before
Before the procedure, avoid shaving or applying any lotion to your legs. (Don't shave or use lotion after the procedure until the injection site is healed either.) Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. You might even consider wearing a pair of shorts so that your legs are exposed.
What you can expect
Sclerotherapy is typically done in your doctor's office and doesn't require anesthesia. It generally takes less than an hour to complete.
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