Patients suffering from unsightly veins want treatment that is both effective and convenient. Sclerotherapy delivers. Doctors and patients alike recognize its value in treating spider veins and small varicose vessels.
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?
Although they seldom cause medical problems, spider veins and small varicose veins are often responsible for significant cosmetic concerns. They tend to appear most often on an individual’s feet, legs, and ankles. Of the two types of vessels, spider veins usually are the smaller and develop closer to the skin’s surface.
Conservative treatments such as wearing compression stockings or avoiding prolonged sitting or standing can help control these veins. However, when patients reach the point where their goal is eliminating them, physicians typically recommend use of sclerosants. According to the Office on Women’s Health, this is the most common therapy for these vessels.
Sclerosants are special liquid or foam substances that have been around since the 1930s, the Cleveland Clinic notes. Physicians administer them on an outpatient basis. After cleansing the targeted area, they inject sclerosing solution into each vein with a fine needle. In many cases, vascular surgeons employ ultrasound to guide a needle before injecting the sclerosant.
A sclerosant eliminates veins by irritating each vessel’s wall. Treated vessels stick together, eventually close, and undergo absorption by the body. Neighboring healthy vessels assume their circulation duties. More than 90 percent of patients who undergo this treatment have a positive response.
Six Patient Benefits
There are some good reasons why this procedure has a reputation as the gold standard of treatment to eliminate spider veins. Doctors and patients love six benefits mentioned by the Mayo Clinic:
- It is a minimally invasive therapy. Patients do not need to be hospitalized. No general anesthesia is necessary.
- The treatment is safe and carries few risks. Any minor side effects typically go away within a period of a few days to several weeks. Complications such as inflammation, an allergic reaction to the chemicals used, air bubbles, or a blood clot are uncommon.
- Preparing for the treatment is easy. Patients cannot apply lotion to their legs or shave them for 24 hours before the procedure. Most opt for loose clothes such as shorts on the day of their injections.
- Most patients complain of minimal, if any, pain during injections.
- The procedure takes less than one hour. Individuals typically assume their normal activities the same day as a treatment session and only need to avoid strenuous exertion.
- One session can eliminate as many as 80 percent of the veins treated.
The size and the location of unwanted vessels determine how many treatment sessions a patient requires. However, no spider vein or varicose vein treatment can prevent the development of new vessels. Patients might see new veins occasionally and opt to come back for additional treatment.