Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to treat painful, unsightly varicose and spider veins. These veins are treated by injecting a solution such as sodium chloride with dextrose (Sclerodex) directly into the damaged veins, causing irritation and eventual clotting and collapse of the vein. Sclerotherapy has been used on patients across the world since the 1930s and remains the primary effective treatment for varicose and spider veins.
At Advanced DermCare, we offer sclerotherapy with Sclerodex – a safe and highly effective solution containing saline and dextrose. In some cases, we may recommend that sclerotherapy be done in conjunction with laser treatments to address fine, bruise-like networks of vessels called telangiectatic mats. We may also recommend a team approach, referring you to a vascular surgeon or interventional radiologist to treat underlying varicose veins and “feeder vessels” when these are present.
Both sclerotherapy and laser treatment of leg veins are safe procedures with little to no downtime. During these procedures, patients may experience a mild sensation of a pinprick (sclerotherapy) or rubber band snap (laser), and can choose to have a topical anesthetic applied if desired.
Recovery and Results
Patients can return home right after sclerotherapy, resuming driving, work and other normal activities the same day. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for 7 to 10 days, as these can reduce results by forcing blood through treated vessels. When feasible, wearing over-the-counter compression stockings or support bandages for a few days after the procedure will improve results. Some patients may experience mild bruising and pigmentation after sclerotherapy, especially when taking aspirin or other blood thinners. These side effects usually subside on their own after a few days, however sun protection is strongly advised both before and after treatment in order to avoid temporary skin discoloration.
Since treated leg veins fade gradually, the true results of sclerotherapy may only be seen after 4 to 6 weeks. Depending on the extent of leg veins, patients may require multiple treatment sessions in order to achieve optimal results, and for this reason, we encourage consultation with one of our skin care experts prior to treatment. In some cases, patients can help preserve the results of sclerotherapy and prevent new veins from appearing by wearing support stockings.
Although sclerotherapy is a safe procedure that has been successfully performed for many years, there are certain risks and side effects associated with any medical procedure. Some of these side effects include lumpy, hard veins, raised red areas, brown lines or spots, swelling, allergic reactions or infection. Your doctor will discuss these rare side effects with you and answer any other concerns you may have about the sclerotherapy procedure.
Most patients with spider or varicose veins are good candidates for sclerotherapy, although the procedure should not be performed on pregnant women or patients who have had a blood clot in the past.