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Varicose Vein Treatment: What Is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive type of varicose vein treatment. It is usually the preferred treatment for spider veins and smaller varicose veins. However, it is sometimes performed on larger veins using duplex ultrasound as a guide (see below). The procedure only takes ten to thirty minutes and the patient has little to no recovery time.

What Happens During the Sclerotherapy Procedure?

If the veins to be treated are on your legs, the doctor will have you lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated. Using an extremely fine needle, a chemical called a sclerosant is injected directly into the intended spider vein or varicose vein. The sclerosant is a liquid salt solution for spider veins and small varicose veins but it may also be a microfoam, especially if the sclerotherapy is being performed on a larger vein. The sclerosant irritates the lining of the vein causing it to collapse and then shrivel.

After the needle is removed, compression is applied to prevent the flow of blood back into the vein. Sometimes too, massaging of the area is also performed for the same purpose.

What Happens After Sclerotherapy?

Most patients who have sclerotherapy experience no side effects. In fact, they can drive themselves home or back to work and continue on with their normal day except no hot baths, swimming, saunas, or sun exposure. They are instructed to wear medical grade compression stockings while the shriveled veins are reabsorbed into the body. Like with other forms of varicose vein treatment, they are also encouraged to go for short walks but not to overdo it as they are instructed to avoid aerobic activity for a few days.

It usually only takes a few weeks for spider veins or small varicose veins to completely disappear from sight after sclerotherapy. For larger veins, it may take a few months for them to completely fade way after sclerotherapy. A review of the scientific literature indicates that sclerotherapy is successful sixty to eighty percent of the time. However, this percentage will likely be higher if you are treated at a highly experienced vein clinic like Metro Vein Centers.

Varicose Vein Treatment: What Is Sclerotherapy?

To perform sclerotherapy on larger veins or deeper veins, duplex ultrasound must first be used to map out the vein. A microfoamsclerosant, rather than a liquid sclerosant is usually used on larger veins. Once the sclerosant is injected into the larger vein, duplex ultrasound is again used to track the path of sclerosant and determine if more is needed. All of this is done in real time by looking at the live 3D scans that are being fed to the doctor and his or her team. Other injection sites may also be needed. On follow up, duplex ultrasound is used to see if the treated vein has closed all the way and is being fully absorbed. It’s also used to determine whether or not additional sclerotherapy will be needed.

Is Sclerotherapy Painful

Like most types of modern varicose vein treatment, sclerotherapy is not that painful. However, there is some discomfort associated with the procedure. Since needles are used to inject the sclerosant, the injection feels equivalent to getting a shot. There also may be some slight stinging as the salt solution enters the veins, especially on larger veins when more sclerosant is injected. A few patients experience mild cramping as well. However, compared to surgery (vein stripping), as was the standard treatment a few decades back, sclerotherapy is relatively painless. Also, there is almost no pain during recovery.

How Does Sclerotherapy Compare to Laser Therapy (Endovenous Laser Treatment)?

Sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment (ELT) are both minimally invasive procedures with short recovery times. So, in this way, they are similar. However, sclerotherapy does have one advantage over endovenous laser treatment, especially in spider veins. The recurrence rate is lower for sclerotherapy because the salt solution gets into the feeder veins causing the spider veins or varicose veins on the surface.

The Best Varicose Vein Treatment

The best varicose vein treatment, including all types of sclerotherapy, is performed by specialists who concentrate their entire practice on varicose vein treatment. These are tedious procedures that require a skillful hand that only comes with time and doing a lot of these procedures. This is what you’ll find a Metro Vein Centers, with whole teams of varicose vein treatment specialists who have been at it for years.

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