Sclerotherapy is a procedure whereby spider veins and varicose veins are injected with a solution to minimize or eliminate the vessel. It is most commonly used to eliminate leg veins but can be used in other areas as well. It is considered to be minimally invasive. At Springhouse Dermatology, double board certified physician Dr. Margo Weishar is proud to offer this treatment to patients who are unhappy about unsightly leg veins.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can appear blue, red or flesh colored. They can appear swollen and raised above the surface. Sometimes they are twisted and bulging. They generally appear on the thighs, backs of calves and inside the legs. Normally, one-way valves in the legs keep blood flowing toward the heart. When the valves do not work properly, pressure can build in the vein, which can cause them to become varicose.
Spider veins are generally small red, purple or blue vessels. They are most commonly found on the legs and the face. They are superficial and are visible through the skin.
There are many causes of varicose and spider veins. Some contributing factors can be heredity, obesity, occupations and activities that require prolonged standing, hormones, birth control pills and a history of blood clots. Sometimes trauma can cause varicose and spider veins as well as over exposure to ultraviolet rays. Pregnant women are at particular risk for varicose veins.
Veins can be treated with injectable solution providing there are no underlying health concerns. Generally the patient is evaluated to determine if sclerotherapy is an appropriate means to remove the problem veins. Occasionally, a larger varicose vein may need to be removed by a more invasive treatment such as ambulatory phlebectomy.
A solution is injected directly into the vein, which damages the lining and causes the vein to collapse. The body will then absorb the vein over a period of weeks. After the body has absorbed the damaged vein it will fade or disappear. Sometimes multiple treatments are necessary to get the most satisfactory result.
Two of the most widely used solutions for sclerotherapy are glycerine and polydoconol. Hypertonic saline is also commonly used but tends to be quite uncomfortable for the patient. Lasers are also commonly used to treat veins but also come with the disadvantage of pain. Very superficial vessels can be treated with IPL.
Glycerine is used most commonly in spider veins and very small varicose veins. It is injected at a slow rate through a very small needle, generally a 32g, directly into the vein.
Polidoconol is generally used to treat larger spider veins and varicose veins as well as small veins. It is quite effective in foam form.
Some side effects of sclerotherapy are raised red areas, bruising, skin darkening, tiny red blood vessels (matting), and tiny skin sores at point of injection. These side effects are generally temporary and can be minimized if aftercare instructions are adhered to. Some side effects that could require treatment are inflammation, blood clots, air bubbles and in rare cases, allergic reaction.
Post care for sclerotherapy includes wearing compression stockings for two weeks. The patient should apply the stockings immediately after treatment. After two days the stockings can be removed for exercise and sleeping. The patient should avoid strenuous activity during this period but walking is encouraged to promote blood flow and avoid blood clots. Sun exposure should be avoided to the treated areas to prevent hyperpigmentation.
Some ways to prevent leg veins would be to exercise to keep blood moving, avoid long periods of standing, avoid wearing high heels and maintain a healthy weight. It is also helpful to avoid long periods of sitting, especially with the legs crossed and try to occasionally elevate the legs. Wearing compression stockings on a regular basis can also aid in preventing leg veins if some of these factors are unavoidable.
If you’re tired of hiding your legs behind long pants and stockings, then make an appointment with us today! Our expert team will help you determine if sclerotherapy is the right choice for you.
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