What is Sclerotherapy?
As we age purple, red, and blue squiggly lines called spider veins, or varicose veins, start showing up on our legs, ankles, and calves. While they usually aren’t painful, no one likes the look of spider veins. At Bay Area Laser Cosmetic Surgery Center, we use sclerotherapy to remove spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure used for varicose vein and spider vein removal from the legs. In sclerotherapy, Asclera (Polidocanol) solution is injected directly into the targeted vein, making it fade away over time.
What Are Spider Veins?
When we’re young, our muscles and other tissues surrounding the veins help push the blood upward. But as we age, these tissues weaken, as do the vein walls. This allows the blood to sometimes pool in the vein, rather than running cleanly through. This makes the vein larger and it can be seen through the surface of the skin. These veins are known as “spider veins”, named after the way the appear to spread out like a web.
Even though they form beneath the skin, the dark color of spider veins makes them visible on the skin surface. Their formation is in most cases a result of aging. Veins return de-oxygenated blood to the heart, and in the legs they are pushing blood against gravity the entire way.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Beyond age, there are other factors that can make a person more likely to develop spider veins:
- Jobs that require prolonged
- Standing or sitting
- Hormonal changes
- Weight fluctuations
Who is a Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
Getting rid of spider veins is a short process that begins with a consultation with a board-certified provider. Medical history is taken and a physical exam performed to help the provider determine whether or not a patient is a good candidate for treatment.
Good candidates for sclerotherapy usually have attributes such as:
- They are between 30 and 60 years of age (though older patients can also have sclerotherapy).
- They understand what to expect from treatment in terms of recovery and results.
- They can commit to post-treatment instructions for vein care.
- They understand that sclerotherapy does not prevent future spider or varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
How is Sclerotherapy Performed?
During sclerotherapy, Asclera (Polidocanol) is injected directly into the targeted vein. Once inside the vein, this solution irritates the vein walls, causing them to collapse. This seals off the vein, and the body then absorbs the vein and the coagulated blood within it over the next few weeks. The appearance of the vein on the surface usually disappears or is dramatically reduced instantly. Any blood that was routed through the vein is rerouted to an adjacent, healthier vein by the body.
How Long Does a Sclerotherapy Treatment Take?
Sclerotherapy involves minor injections into individual veins to cause their closure. The time it takes to complete a session may depend on the number of veins you wish to have treated at that time. Often, patients are in and out of the office in about an hour and able to immediately resume normal activities.
What Are the Benefits of Sclerotherapy for Spider Vein Removal?
There are several reasons to consider sclerotherapy treatment for spider veins. This technique has been performed for many years, so you can feel confident that it will achieve a desirable outcome with few risks. Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure that is conducted in the doctor’s office. There is no general anesthesia and no downtime. After one or more sessions, the skin looks much clearer, if not completely vein-free.
What is the Recovery From Sclerotherapy?
In most cases, we’ll put you in compression stockings after your sclerotherapy session, particularly if you’ve had multiple veins treated. These hoses improve your body’s ability to heal and absorb the closed off spider veins. You’ll wear them for up to two weeks.
How Long After My Sclerotherapy Treatment Will I See Results?
Because sclerotherapy works by collapsing visible veins, it can take some time to see results. You may begin to see your veins fading after about a week, but this can also take up to a few weeks to become noticeable. Definitive results are usually seen by six weeks post-treatment when sclerotherapy is performed on small veins. Larger veins may take up to 12 weeks to fade.
How Long Do Sclerotherapy Results Last?
Sclerotherapy causes veins to close. When veins close, the body absorbs them. The results of sclerotherapy, then, last indefinitely. Keep in mind that, while treated veins disappear for good, sclerotherapy does not prevent new spider veins from forming.
Is Sclerotherapy Painful?
Because a tiny needle is used to administer injections into spider veins, sclerotherapy is not considered pain-free. However, it is described as virtually painless and patients who have had this treatment agree. There are no nerve endings in veins and blood vessels, so no pain occurs when the needle is inserted into spider veins. The minor discomfort that patients feel is the poke of the small needle. After injections, minor aching or cramping may be felt, as well. Wearing compression stockings helps the veins close more quickly, minimizing this side effect.
How Many Sclerotherapy Sessions Will I Need?
Every person is slightly different in the number of treatments they need to achieve the results they desire. Some people see complete resolution of a few spider veins with just one treatment. If there are more veins or more visible veins, 2 to 4 treatments may be needed. Your provider can estimate how many appointments you may need to get the smooth, clear skin you deserve.
What Are the Risks of Sclerotherapy?
There are a few minor risks of sclerotherapy, such as:
- Hardness or lumpiness in larger injected veins.
- Redness and swelling around injection sites. These side effects usually disappear within a week.
- Bruising around injection sites. This can last up to several weeks.
- Brown spots or lines on the skin in the treatment area. This could be due to the leakage of a form of iron from treated veins. Discoloration usually disappears in 3 to 6 months.
- Revascularization, the formation of tiny blood vessels, may occur in the treatment area. This is a temporary “flare” that may appear days or weeks after sclerotherapy treatment. It usually fades within a few months without further treatment.
- Itching and swelling may occur as an allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent. Allergic reactions are rarely serious.