Veins ranging from spider veins to medium and large varicose veins on the surface of the legs and occasionally the feet are best treated with sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy involves the direct injection of a sclerosing agent into the vein using a very fine needle. The sclerosing agent irritates the lining of the vein wall, makes it swell shut, contract, and collapse.

The initial treatment session takes 60 to 90 minutes. Usually more than one treatment session is needed to reach your desired results. Subsequent visits are scheduled in 60 minute blocks of time. The number of treatments needed and the length of the appointment depends on the number of varicose veins being treated and the resilience of the veins. Cost of this procedure is based on the number of treatments.

Prior to treatment, your skin will be cleaned with alcohol swabs and a varicose veins specialist may examine the surrounding area using a light that illuminates the veins. During the procedure you may feel some slight stinging or burning depending on the solution and concentration used. Usually you just feel a slight discomfort from the injection itself. After the solution is injected, the area will be massaged to help distribute the solution to other parts of the vein. After the treatment is completed, your compression hose will be applied and will need to be worn for the next 48 hours without interruption, then for two weeks while you are awake and on your feet.

The benefits of sclerotherapy include…

  • Safe, virtually pain free, in-office treatment
  • Minimally invasive
  • Excellent cosmetic results, gets rid of unsightly varicose veins
  • Little risk of complications: no incisions and no anesthetics used
  • No down time, the treatment doesn’t interfere with normal daily activities

The most common side effects of sclerotherapy are…

  • Itching lasting 1 to 5 days
  • Transient phlebitis (inflammation of the vein)
  • Superficial blebs or wheals similar to hives
  • Stinging or cramping at the injection site
  • Raised, reddened patches of skin
  • Bruising and tenderness over the treated vein lasting 7 to 10 days

Less common side effects of sclerotherapy are…

  • Hyperpigmentation lasting 10 days to several months
  • Superficial clot formation requiring aspiration in larger veins
  • Mild allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent
  • Blisters or ulcer formation (blisters may open up and become ulcers) without scarring
  • In some cases sclerotherapy may not eliminate the vein or veins
  • Neovascularization, usually temporary, which is the formation of new, tiny pink veins

Rarely, more serious adverse outcomes can arise, including…

  • Permanent skin staining
  • Deep ulcer formation and scarring
  • Infection
  • Keloid type scarring (very raised or thick scars); patients usually have a previous history of keloid scar formation and know if they are prone to these
  • Serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Deep venous clot formation
  • Pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that travels to the lungs)
  • Post phlebitic syndrome resulting in permanent swelling of the leg(s)