What Sclerotherapy is and How it Works
Sclerotherapy is a treatment used to get rid of the appearance of spider veins. Spider veins are clusters of tiny, visible veins that are close to the skin’s surface and appear as red, blue, or purple in color. Sclerotherapy works by injecting a sclerosing agent into the vein which shrinks the vein, and causes the vein to be reabsorbed by the body. This process treats the veins that are generally considered to be superficial veins between the skin and the fascia. The veins between the skin and fascia are generally not important for the greater vascular system due to their superficial nature.
Advances in Sclerotherapy: More Effective and Easier than Ever
Sclerotherapy started with injections of saline solutions in the 1930s. It is now much easier, safer, more effective, and more comfortable than in the early days. Sclerotherapy treatment by a board certified dermatologist will give you the peace of mind to know that the doctor has the necessary training and experience to achieve the best treatment results.
While sclerotherapy is often a great option for spider veins, it is not the only option. If you are interested in a successful treatment for spider veins, contact your dermatologist to set up a consultation. The doctor will advise you about the best treatment options for a successful outcome.
Sclerotherapy is best for treating small, unwanted visible veins on the legs. Spider veins that have appeared over the past 5 – 10 years respond to sclerotherapy with great success. Spider veins that have been present for 10-20 years will also respond with very good results. For spider veins that have been present for 20+ years, it is best to set up a consultation with one of the dermatologists at Aesthetic Dermatology. The doctor will assess your individual situation and recommend a specific treatment plan that will be best for you.
While spider veins generally do not hurt or cause discomfort, please contact Aesthetic Dermatology if you feel any discomfort such as aching, throbbing, burning or itching. We advise you to contact your insurance company to determine coverage or noncoverage.
Spider Veins Risk Factors
The cause of spider veins is not completely understood. However, there are a number of risk factors associated with spider veins:
- Genetics: Spider veins are more likely to develop if they run in your family.
Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop spider veins.
Inactivity: Prolonged standing or sitting in one place or one position.
Weight Gain: Gaining weight may lead to the development of spider veins.
Hormonal Changes: Birth control pills and pregnancy may cause spider veins.
Injury: Spider veins may develop at the site of an impact injury, or cut to the skin.
In some cases, vascular laser treatment may be more appropriate than sclerotherapy. This will depend on your individual case, and will be determined by your board certified dermatologist.
Sclerotherapy Treatment Process
Once you have met with your dermatologist, and determined that sclerotherapy is the right treatment for you, it is time to set up an appointment. Compression hose will be ordered once your appointment is made. The doctor will advise you how frequently to wear your compression hose post treatment. We recommend avoiding intense physical activity at least 3-4 days or up to a week post treatment.
It generally takes about a half hour for the dermatologist to inject the sclerosing agent in the necessary areas for treatment. The sclerosing agent will then cause the veins to start shrinking. Eventually, the veins will disappear. It is recommended to walk for about 20 minutes after treatment to help circulate the sclerosing agent in the targeted veins. If you have a long car trip after treatment, please allow an extra 10-15 minutes every hour to stop, and to take a walk in order to avoid blood clots.
For best results, patients will wear compression hose for a week post procedure. This helps to encourage the veins to shrink. The compression hose also prevent the potential of blood clots.
We recommend a follow up visit 3 months post treatment. The dermatologist will determine if another sclerotherapy treatment is necessary.
Common Concerns and Questions about Sclerotherapy
How many sclerotherapy treatments are usually necessary?
Usually 1-3 treatments are necessary. During your 3 month follow up it will be determined if more treatments are needed to achieve the desired results.
When will I see results?
It usually takes about 3 months.
Are sclerotherapy results permanent?
Yes, the veins that shrink and disappear are permanently gone. It is possible for new spider veins to appear in another area.
Does sclerotherapy hurt?
Most patients experience a mild, but temporary discomfort. Patients also describe a slight tingling in their veins.
Do I need to wear compression hose all the time?
For best results, we recommend that our patients wear compression hose for the full week after treatment. Remove compression hose briefly while showering.
Is sclerotherapy right for me?
Schedule your free consultation and talk to your dermatologist to find out.