Sclerotherapy

before vein treatment

Sclerotherapy is the most common procedure used to treat spider veins and varicose veins. During treatment, a liquid chemical called a sclerosing solution is injected into the vein causing the vein walls to seal shut. After time, the vein breaks down, turns to scar tissue and then disappears.

Varicose veins are identified by their enlarged, gnarled appearance; they may be red or blue, and often bulge beyond the surface of the skin. Spider veins are like varicose veins in that they are enlarged and red or blue-colored; however, the veins are thinner and appear closer to the skin's surface. Both varicose and spider veins may ache or throb, worsening when you stand or sit for long periods of time.

Should I be concerned about spider veins or varicose veins?

leg veins before You may want to seek medical help if your varicose or spider veins become swollen, or are warm to the touch. If the appearance of the vein(s) bothers you, you may want to consider sclerotherapy, a popular cosmetic treatment for unwanted veins.

Unwanted veins can appear as a result of factors such as:
  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Weight gain
  • Prolonged sitting or standing

What happens during sclerotherapy?View Procedures & Treatments

Your plastic surgeon will thoroughly examine the veins you are concerned about, taking notes of your symptoms. Venous reflux disease, the abnormal recirculation of blood, causes symptoms similar to those related to varicose and spider veins, so it's important to see a doctor regarding the condition.

Once your diagnosis is confirmed, you may be recommended for sclerotherapy. The procedure is performed in your plastic surgeon's office and lasts between 15-30 minutes. First, the skin is cleansed with antiseptic, and then the sclerosing solution is injected into the vein. This solution is often composed of detergents, osmotic agents, and chemical irritants. One injection is needed for every inch of vein (5-40 injections per session), and two or more sessions are usually required, at four to six week intervals.

If the vein cannot be seen on the skin's surface, ultrasound may be used to help guide the insertion of the needle. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is also commonly performed in a plastic surgeon's office.

What happens after sclerotherapy?

It is important to remember to limit your activities for a few days following sclerotherapy, though walking is encouraged to help speed the recovery process. You may experience cramping, redness, and bruising, symptoms that are treatable with the application of tight-fitting support hose for the first 72 hours or more following treatment. Please contact your surgeon or health professional if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Drs. Korentager, Ponnuru, Hendrix, De Souza, and Bhavsar at The University of Kansas Physicians welcome your questions concerning sclerotherapy. Please call us at 913-588-2000 if you have a suspicious or unwanted vein or would like to find out more about treatment options for varicose or spider veins.