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Medical Treatments continued...

Foam sclerotherapy is a variation in which a foaming agent is mixed into the injection. The foaming agent moves blood out of the vein so that the chemical can come into better contact with the vein wall.  

During sclerotherapy treatments, you may feel small needle pricks as your doctor injects the veins. You can also experience temporary muscle cramping from normal saline sclerotherapy injections. Afterward, you’ll need to wear medical-grade support stockings for a few weeks.

Some temporary reactions may occur, including slight leg or foot swelling, mild bruising or soreness, itching, or redness. Rarely, sclerotherapy can cause development of small clusters of red blood vessels, brown pigmentation, and skin ulcerations around the treated veins.

Laser and light therapy 

Laser and pulse light therapy can heat blood vessels to shrink them.

Laser therapy applies light energy from a laser onto a varicose vein to make it shrink and fade away. For veins to be treated successfully, several sessions may be required, usually at six week intervals.

Laser therapy is most effective for small varicose veins and spider veins, but lasers are also used in a different procedure called “endovenous ablation therapy” to treat larger varicose veins. Doctors may also use laser therapy as an additional treatment after sclerotherapy, endovenous therapy, or surgery for larger varicose veins.

Another treatment option, Photoderm or intense pulsed light therapy (IPL), uses high-intensity pulsed light to shrink certain sizes of varicose veins and small spider veins. IPL differs from laser therapy, which uses a single emitted wavelength, by emitting a spectrum of light. Photoderm or IPL may help when sclerotherapy or laser therapy doesn't work.  

Endovenous ablation therapy

In this procedure, doctors close off varicose veins by using lasers or high-frequency radio waves within the vein to create intense heat. Your doctor will make a tiny cut near the vein and insert a small catheter. A device at the tip of the catheter heats up the inside of the vessel and closes it off.

Compared to an older procedure called vein stripping and ligation, in which veins are tied shut and removed through small cuts in the skin, ablation therapy closes off varicose veins but leaves them in place, resulting in minimal bleeding and bruising.

This therapy offers similar results in terms of improving appearance and symptoms. But people who have it feel less pain and get back to normal activities faster than those who undergo vein stripping and ligation.

Endovenous ablation therapy is minimally invasive and generally safe and complication-free. There are, though, risks, including infection, damage to the blood vessel, inflammation of the vein, and, rarely, heat damage to nerves, although this typically goes away in a short time. In extremely rare cases, blood clots that form in the veins can travel to the lungs.