• Sclerotherapy effectively treats varicose and spider veins. It’s often considered the treatment of choice for small varicose veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.

    After sclerotherapy, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take a month or more to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.

    Sclerotherapy is often done for:

    • Cosmetic purposes — to improve the appearance of varicose and spider veins

    The procedure also can improve related symptoms such as:

    • Aching
    • Swelling
    • Burning
    • Night cramps

    Temporary side effects

    Some side effects that may occur at the site of the injection include:

    • Bruising
    • Raised red areas
    • Small skin sores
    • Darkened skin in the form of lines or spots
    • Multiple tiny red blood vessels

    These side effects usually go away within a few days to several weeks. Some side effects can take months or even years to disappear completely.

    During the Procedure

    Sclerotherapy is typically done in your doctor’s office and doesn’t require anesthesia. It generally takes less than an hour to complete. If you have a lot of pain, tell your doctor. Pain may occur if the solution leaks from the vein into surrounding tissue.

    Once the needle is withdrawn, your doctor applies compression and massages the area to keep blood out of the injected vessel and disperse the solution. A compression pad may be taped onto the injection site to keep the area compressed while your doctor moves on to the next vein. The number of injections depends on the number and size of veins being treated.

    After the procedure

    You’ll be able to get up and walk around soon after the procedure. Walking and moving your legs is important to prevent the formation of blood clots.

    You’ll be asked to wear compression stockings or bandages — usually for about two weeks — to maintain compression on the treated veins.

    Most people return to their normal activities on the same day, but it may be wise to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Your doctor will probably advise you to avoid strenuous exercise for two weeks after the procedure.

    You’ll also want to avoid sun exposure to the treated areas during that time. The inflammation caused by the injections combined with sun exposure can lead to dark spots on your skin, especially if you already have a dark skin tone.

    Results

    If you were treated for small varicose veins or spider veins, you can usually expect to see definitive results in three to six weeks. Larger veins may require three to four months. However, multiple treatments may be needed to achieve the results you want.

    Veins that respond to treatment generally don’t come back, but new veins may appear.

    Your doctor will likely schedule a follow-up visit about a month after the procedure to check the procedure’s success and decide whether further sessions are needed. Generally, you need to wait about six weeks before undergoing another sclerotherapy session.

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