Varicose veins and spider veins can be distressing problems to live with. It is important to know that you don’t have to. At The Vein Clinic in Columbia, South Carolina, we provide proven treatments such as sclerotherapy to reduce the discomfort and cosmetic symptoms of venous insufficiency.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical, minimally-invasive vein treatment conducted in our medical office. Sclerotherapy sessions typically last about 30 minutes during which there are numerous injections. Patients sit back comfortably with the legs elevated slightly. The skin above the vein is cleansed prior to injections. Treatment involves using a tiny needle to inject veins with a sclerosing agent, a solution that causes slight irritation within the wall of the affected vein. Because there are no nerve endings in the veins, the treatment process is usually quite tolerable. A slight pinch or sting may be felt from the needle, and from the absorption of the medicated solution. The irritation that occurs after sclerotherapy causes the vein to gradually close. When it does, blood flows elsewhere, to a healthier vein. Also, the closing of the vein leads to its gradual disappearance.
During sclerotherapy, compression and massage help disperse medication through the vein, and keep blood from entering the treated vessel. A number of injections may be administered to treat large veins and multiple veins.
Am I a Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
If you have been struggling with spider or varicose veins for some time and have not seen improvement with lifestyle modifications such as wearing compression garments or walking more frequently, you may be a good candidate for sclerotherapy. Ideal candidates are in good general health and have realistic expectations of what is possible with available treatments for venous insufficiency. An understanding that new problems may occur in veins after sclerotherapy is important.
Sclerotherapy may be right for you if you experience one or more of the following:
- Leg cramps, especially at night
- Redness or swelling
- Pain, aching or burning sensations in your legs or feet
- Scaly, dry or discolored skin
- Discomfort from sitting or standing for long periods
Individuals troubled by varicose veins may choose, in consultation with their physician, to undergo sclerotherapy either because they find them unattractive or because the diseased veins are causing unpleasant and/or dangerous symptoms.
One of the reasons that sclerotherapy is a valuable vein treatment is because it is not a surgical procedure. Therefore, very little is necessary to prepare for treatment, and have patients have minimal time off for “recovery.” No anesthesia is needed to make sclerotherapy relatively pain-free, which significantly shortens the immediate recovery from care. Long-term recovery, as well, is simplified for sclerotherapy patients. Walking and mild physical activity can be resumed the day of treatment, and may be supported with compression stockings. For a treatment that takes only about one hour, and requires only uncomplicated after-care, sclerotherapy offers immense value.
Is Sclerotherapy Painful?
Maybe you’ve had previous painful spider vein treatments with saline, so-called “saline injections”, and have worries that all sclerotherapy burns and hurts. Good news! It doesn’t. Today’s new FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are relatively painless and are much more effective than saline.
Dr. Reynold’s patients can usually see positive results within four to six several weeks. Although patients sometimes report a brief period of itching, they experience little discomfort. Treated veins generally don’t come back, but new veins may appear. The number of sessions needed to reach a patient’s goal may vary, depending on the number and size of the veins treated.
Patients can return home after sclerotherapy. Although it may take up to a month for the patient to see the full results, some improvement is usually visible right away.
To promote vascular health and retain the positive effects of sclerotherapy, we recommend that patients maintain a healthy weight and make exercise part of their daily routine.
One of the benefits of sclerotherapy is that there are few risks with this treatment, and the side effects that may occur are typically mild and temporary. After sclerotherapy treatments, patients may notice:
• Numerous tiny blood vessels around the treated vein
• Bruising in the treatment area
• Small patches of raised, red skin
• Small sores in the treatment area
• Spots or lines of darkened skin
These minor side effects, if they do occur, usually fade away over several days or weeks. They are not an indication of complications from treatment, nor that treatment has not been successful.