When it comes to eliminating spider veins and small varicose veins, sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice. Understanding the basics of what it entails and the specific preparation required helps many patients avoid unwanted stress on the day of the appointment and as they heal.
This same-day procedure is minimally invasive. Vascular surgeons most commonly use it to get rid of vessels visible on the legs. They typically recommend this treatment when conservative measures such as wearing compression stockings have failed to create a result satisfactory to the patient.
During this treatment, the physician uses a very fine needle to inject a special solution known as a sclerosant into each targeted vein. Once injected, the solution creates scarring in the vessel. This forces blood to flow through nearby vessels that are healthier. Once the vein has collapsed, the body resorbs it.
The Mayo Clinic notes that a vessel usually fades within several weeks, although this could take at least a month. Most individuals experience little pain. To achieve desired results, a patient might need multiple sessions.
Patients should expect to be up and walking shortly after injection of a sclerosant. They are usually able to resume normal daily routines, absent strenuous activity, upon arriving home.
Getting Ready for Your Procedure
Preparation for this vein treatment is fairly simple. It begins with an initial consultation in which the surgeon completes a physical examination and takes the patient’s medical history.
During the exam, the doctor assesses the problem veins and determines whether there is any underlying disease of the blood vessels. Questions during a discussion of the medical history cover existing health issues, prior vein treatments, any recent illness, allergies, and any prior blood clots.
Patients will need to list all the supplements and medications they take and might need to stop taking some of them for a certain period the physician stipulates. Some individuals will also need to undergo ultrasound imaging of leg veins.
At this point, the doctor will determine whether a patient is a good candidate for the use of sclerosants. According to Stanford Health Care, they are not a good alternative for individuals with:
- Prior vein inflammation, diabetes, leg ulcers, blood clots in their legs, arterial problems, or other vascular issues
- A current pregnancy
- Prior radical mastectomy
- Shunt used for dialysis
- Prior significant trauma to the chest, arms, or hands
The Mayo Clinic recommends that for 24 hours before the appointment, a patient avoid applying lotion to the legs or shaving them. Wearing loose clothes and shoes that make walking easier immediately after the procedure helps make the experience more comfortable. Many patients choose a pair of shorts.
Individuals should bring any compression stockings the surgeon requires to their treatment session. In most cases, these stockings are available for purchase at a pharmacy or online.