What is Sclerotherapy?
Many of us have been there. As we get older, we start to notice those thin, blue veins appearing on our legs and feet. Varicose and spider veins are usually harmless but still cause trouble for millions of people daily. However, all is not lost. There’s a way to fight back!
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that treats and reduces the effects of varicose and spider veins. This treatment works by injecting sclerosing agents into damaged veins, causing the vein walls to seal up, redirecting blood flow, and minimizing their overall appearance.
Varicose and Spider Veins: What Causes Them?
Varicose veins are red and blue-tinted blood vessels that swell and develop near the surface of the skin. These vessels contain small valves that help direct blood flow back toward the heart, but they can weaken and fail as we age. This failure causes the blood to pool in the veins, making them swell. Varicose veins are usually only a cosmetic concern, but some cases cause pain, itching, and irritation.
Spider veins, on the other hand, are the smaller, more superficial cousin of varicose veins. These unsightly veins typically appear closer to the skin’s surface and are more regularly found on the face. Spider veins aren’t known to cause pain or irritation like varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Although varicose veins might not be a medical condition that requires immediate treatment, they can still cause significant issues and often have pronounced symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Swollen, twisted, often bulging veins
- Veins that appear dark red or even blue
- Achy, heavy legs
- Throbbing or cramping muscles in the calf muscles
- Increased pain following prolonged episodes of sitting or standing
- Itching or burning near the vein
- Skin discoloration
Sclerotherapy Treatment: How it Works
Sclerotherapy is a medical treatment where sclerosants are injected directly into the problem vein, causing damage to its innermost lining. This damaged vessel then clots and begins to break down, blocking further blood flow and reducing the overall appearance of the vein. The sclerosants used in this procedure include:
This chemical is a sterile, colorless solution that damages the blood vessels, causing platelets to form at the site of damage. These platelets eventually block the vessel, allowing the vein to die, dissolve, and eventually disappear.
• Sodium Tetradecyl Sulfate
This chemical works by increasing the formation of blood clots and scar tissue within certain types of veins. It is also known for decreasing the overall size of enlarged veins.
• Hypertonic Saline Solutions
Hypertonic Saline is a widely-used, inexpensive solution that irritates tiny spider veins, causing them to close and break down.
Sclerotherapy is an effective way of treating and removing collapsed and damaged blood vessels. It’s minimally invasive, requiring only small injections at the problem site, and may prove to be a favorable treatment option for those with low pain tolerance. Treatments often last between 15 minutes to an hour depending on severity, and most patients only require between three and five treatments to achieve the desired results.
Areas that Sclerotherapy Can Treat
Sclerotherapy is an excellent method of reducing the appearance of varicose and spider veins on the legs and feet. However, depending on the size of the vessels, this procedure can also be performed on the face, nose, thighs, ankles, and even on hemorrhoids.
Primary Treatment Methods
Sclerotherapy is a popular treatment method that can be completed without anesthesia or pain killers and performed in as little as fifteen minutes. There are numerous different sclerotherapy treatments, including:
1. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy
This procedure uses ultrasound technology to locate, follow, and reduce troublesome veins. It’s capable of spotting veins invisible to the naked eye, allowing physicians to target a large number of veins in a single treatment.
2. Liquid sclerotherapy
This treatment option uses a liquid solution, most often sodium tetradecyl sulfate or saline, to cause scarring in the veins, causing them to wither and dissolve.
3. Foam sclerotherapy
Foam sclerotherapy works by injecting a foam solution into the vein. This foam allows treatment to an increased surface area, providing more effective results than other sclerotherapy forms.
This is the most popular treatment for smaller spider veins. With Micro-sclerotherapy, a tiny need is used, allowing your physician to treat veins that are otherwise too small to access.
Preparing for Sclerotherapy Treatment
After you’ve consulted with a dermatologist or medical professional about your varicose or spider veins, they may prescribe a sclerotherapy procedure. Before this treatment, your doctor may require you to:
- Refrain from using certain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce the risk of bruising.
- Apply lotions or shave your legs to decrease irritations caused by the procedure.
- Have compression socks handy to wear following your treatment.
- Wear comfortable, loose pants or shorts to your treatment.
The Results You Can Expect
Sclerotherapy is an effective solution for varicose and spider veins and is often considered the procedure of choice for most individuals. After your treatment, you’ll be able to get up and walk around, and being ambulatory is an essential factor in preventing potential blood clots. You’ll also need to wear compression socks for a few weeks and avoid exposing the affected areas to direct sunlight.
Most people can return to their normal activities the same day, though you may need to avoid strenuous activity or exercise for a few days following the treatment.
Sclerotherapy side effects are rare, but can include swelling, capillary dilation, infection, nerve damage, and hyperpigmentation at the treatment site.
Skin Problems? Don’t Wait! Connect with Winston Salem Dermatology Today!
Varicose and spider veins are an unsightly and sometimes uncomfortable issue that affects nearly 20% of the population. These problems are only cosmetic most of the time, but they can be an irritating, painful disorder for some. Sclerotherapy is an effective procedure where chemical solutions are injected directly into the problem vein, causing it to wither, clot, and dissolve away.
Winston Salem Dermatology has years of experience in diagnosing and treating many different skin conditions. Our technicians are trained to diagnose and treat conditions like Acne, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Varicose Veins, and much more. We also offer numerous cosmetic skin treatments like microdermabrasion and IPL light therapy. Give us a call today at (336) 774-8636, and let us help you reclaim your youthful, radiant skin!