Sclerotherapy, a proven medical procedure that has been in use since the 1930s, is used to eliminate varicose veins and spider veins. During the procedure a solution (generally a salt or an irritating solution) is injected directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to swell and stick together and the blood to clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.
Am I a Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
Prior to sclerotherapy, you will have an initial consultation with a dermatologist or vascular medicine specialist who will determine if the procedure is right for you.
Sclerotherapy is not recommended in the following circumstances:
- If you are pregnant
- If you have had a blood clot in the past, your eligibility will depend on the overall health of the area needing treatment as well as the reason for the clot.
Veins that are potentially usable for future heart bypass surgery will generally not be considered for sclerotherapy, unless they are already deemed unusable.
How Is Sclerotherapy Done?
During sclerotherapy, the sclerosing solution is injected through a very fine needle directly into the vein. At this point, you may experience mild discomfort and/or cramping for one to two minutes, especially when larger veins are injected.
Sclerotherapy is performed in the doctor's office by a dermatologist or a surgeon, and the procedure itself takes approximately 15 to 45 minutes. The number of veins injected in one session depends on the size and location of the veins, as well as your general medical condition.
What You Need To Do Before Sclerotherapy
Prior to sclerotherapy, you should avoid certain medications. Talk to your doctor about all medicines (including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements) you are taking before the procedure. Some doctors recommend avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen (for example, Advil, Motrin and Nuprin), or other anti-inflammatory drugs for 48-72 hours before sclerotherapy.
If you need to take an antibiotic before sclerotherapy, contact your doctor.
No lotion should be applied to the legs before the procedure (tape will not stick) and it is best to wear shorts to the procedure.