What Are Spider Veins?
Spider Veins, also know as telangiectasias, are very small, visible (usually red to purple) blood vessels. They are found most often on the thighs or lower legs, though they can appear anywhere on the legs, and sometimes on the face. Predisposition to telangiectasia is hereditary, and the condition strikes women more often than men.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are similar to telangiectasias but much larger. They can become visibly swollen, often appearing lumpy. Although telangiectasias are primarily a cosmetic concern, the larger varicose veins can be uncomfortable, even painful. They are caused by malfunctioning valves in the veins allowing blood to accumulate. Obesity, pregnancy, and occupations requiring you to stand for extended periods are among the most common risk factors. Without treatment, these problematic veins tend to worsen with age.
Sclerotherapy For Varicose Veins & Spider Veins
The preferred medical treatment for either of these vein problems is sclerotherapy, a non-surgical, minimally invasive, and effective procedure. It involves a simple injection of a special sclerosing agent into the vein. The procedure can usually be completed in less than 45 minutes with minimal discomfort. Most patients describe a mild cramping or stinging sensation if they experience any discomfort at all.
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?
This is a time-tested procedure, used since the 1930s, and refined with modern medical technology. Today’s sclerosing agents are specifically formulated to provide a virtually painless treatment with a high rate of success. Results will develop gradually, over several months following treatment. The appearance of treated vessels will continually diminish until they have completely faded away.
How Should I Prepare for Sclerotherapy Treatment?
During your consultation for vein treatment, you need to tell your doctor about your medical history and about all medications and supplements that you take, including estrogen and birth control pills. If any products may interfere with your treatment or increase your risk of bleeding or other complications, you may be advised to alter your dosage schedule. This may need to be approved by the prescribing physician before you move forward with your vein procedure.
About one week before undergoing sclerotherapy, it is essential that you avoid taking any medication or supplement that thins the blood. Examples include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and vitamin E. Beginning a few days before your appointment, you should refrain from smoking, nicotine use, and alcohol consumption. These habits can inhibit proper tissue healing. You should also avoid sun exposure and exposure to excessive heat for a few days before getting sclerotherapy. This includes hot baths and showers, hot tubs, and saunas.
Your doctor may advise you to bring your compression stockings with you to your appointment and to eat a light meal or snack beforehand. Dress comfortably, in shorts or pants that can easily slip off or up as needed to access the treatment area.
How Long Will it Take Before I See Results from Sclerotherapy?
You may begin to see some results from your sclerotherapy treatment within the first month after your appointment. This may depend on the size of the veins you have had treated. For example, because they are quite small, spider veins may close and fade away much more quickly than large varicose veins. In the case of large veins, it can take three to four months to notice satisfying results.
Are Sclerotherapy Results Permanent?
The effects of sclerotherapy are permanent on the veins that we have treated. The injections close these veins for good, which can allow you to feel more satisfied with your appearance. With regular physical activity, you might also reduce your risk of developing new visible veins. That said, having sclerotherapy does not guarantee that other veins will not experience distention due to venous insufficiency. During your course of treatment, talk with your doctor about ways that you can improve your vein health to potentially avoid needing subsequent treatments in the future.
Is Sclerotherapy Painful?
Sclerotherapy is administered using a tiny needle. Though it may seem unlikely, the insertion of the needle into the vein itself does not hurt. What you can expect is a slight pinch every time the needle is inserted through the skin. The discomfort of the treatment is temporary and mild. After your treatment, the area may feel achy or tender. Wearing your compression stockings as directed can help manage your overall comfort. Your doctor may also discuss appropriate pain relievers that you can take if necessary.
Are there any Side Effects of Sclerotherapy?
This injection therapy is proven to get rid of unwanted veins, though it may come with some side effects. It is important to know what you may experience and for how long so you can plan your treatment and recovery accordingly. The fact that sclerotherapy can result in some side effects does not mean you will experience every single one. You may notice only slight effects that last a few days or weeks, or you may develop more prominent side effects that take months to fully resolve. Some of the conditions that can occur after sclerotherapy include skin discoloration, bruising, raised, red skin around the injection sites, aching, night cramps, swelling, and a burning or stinging sensation. Your doctor can discuss what you can do to manage your comfort after your treatment.
Typically, you will be able to return to your normal daily activities immediately following treatment. A compression bandage will be recommended for the first three days. You will be advised to refrain from strenuous activity or exercise for seven to ten days, if possible. It is also advisable to avoid excess sun exposure, as pigmentation marks may result. Your doctor will provide full instructions for post-treatment care.