What Is Sclerotherapy?
Men and women who are in excellent health, prime physical condition and of any age can suffer from varicose and spider veins. Even though many people choose to live with these highly-visible veins, they can lead to undesirable discoloration or even painful symptoms that can cause self-consciousness or physical discomfort.
Explaining Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins that appear blue or dark red under the skin, most commonly occurring in the legs, and can be a natural result of aging or a result of weak or damaged veins. The risk of varicose veins can increase with age and during pregnancy, some women can experience enlarged veins in the leg as the volume of blood in the body increases. Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, only smaller.
While there is no way to prevent varicose veins, sclerotherapy is a non-surgical treatment that encourages blood flow to reroute through healthier veins, leading the varicose or spider veins to eventually fade. Sclerotherapy is a proven effective treatment, and studies have shown that 50-80 percent of injected veins may be eliminated with each sclerotherapy session. Additionally, less than ten percent of those who receive sclerotherapy do not respond to treatment, meaning it is a commonly successful procedure.
Choosing Sclerotherapy at Harmony Healing
Prior to your sclerotherapy treatment, Harmony Healing provides an initial consultation in order to understand your concerns, goals and health history for the procedure. At this time, we will also determine if you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy based on your unique anatomy and medical history. Your Harmony Healing provider will also discuss what to expect from the treatment and work to develop a treatment plan that best meets your needs and goals for the procedure.
Sclerotherapy is a safe procedure, but pregnant women are not eligible for the procedure. Additionally, individuals with a history of blood clots may not be eligible for sclerotherapy, and eligibility will be decided on an individual basis depending on health history and overall health of the area requiring treatment. Your provider will also discuss which veins may not be considered for treatment, such as veins that are potentially usable for future heart bypass surgery.
What to Expect from Sclerotherapy Treatment
Sclerotherapy is an in-office procedure that is performed without anesthesia and you will be able to walk around soon after the procedure. Most patients report minimal discomfort from the procedure and are able to resume most normal activities after the procedure, including driving themselves home. To achieve the best experience, it is important to follow all pre- and post- treatment recommendations from your provider.
Ahead of the sclerotherapy treatment, it is important to follow all pre-treatment guidelines recommended by your provider. This includes avoiding certain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or blood thinners, not applying lotion or oil to the treatment area and avoiding shaving the treatment area. It is also important to wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. Some patients choose to wear shorts that leave their legs exposed.
During Your Sclerotherapy Treatment
Sclerotherapy is an in-office procedure that offers results with minimal discomfort. The procedure works by injecting a specialized solution into the affected veins. The solution, which is usually a liquid, works to stimulate the lining of the vein, leading it to swell shut and block blood flow. In turn, this encourages your body to naturally reroute the blood flow to healthier veins. The treated vein will then become scar tissue and be reabsorbed naturally, and the dark blue or red coloration from varicose or spider veins will gradually fade.
During the procedure, you will lie on your back with your legs elevated, and your provider will use a fine needle to slowly insert the solution into the targeted vein or veins. Some patients experience a minor pinch as the needle is inserted or minor stinging or cramps. After the solution is injected, your provider will gently massage the treatment area to encourage blood flow out of the injected vessel and to disperse the solution. If multiple veins are being treated, a compression pad may be applied as treatment continues.
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment, enabling patients to walk around soon after the procedure and even drive themselves home. Walking, in fact, is encouraged, as it promotes blood flow and minimizes the risk of blood clots. You can resume normal daily activities following your procedure, although you will be instructed to wear support hosiery that compresses the treated vessels and encourages appropriate blood flow. Some patients report tenderness or bruising at the injection site, but recovery is a relatively easy process. For about 48 hours after treatment, hot baths, hot compresses, whirlpools or saunas and direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided. This allows your body to recover appropriately.
Most patients begin to notice results in a matter of weeks, especially if treatment mainly targeted smaller varicose veins or spider veins. In general, spider veins respond and fade in three to six weeks and larger veins respond in three to four months. Once veins have responded to treatment, they will not reappear. While new veins may appear at the same rate as before your treatment, your provider can discuss healthy habits and changes to reduce the development of these veins or discuss additional treatment of veins.
If you are dealing with the unsightly side effects of varicose or spider veins, schedule your consultation today to determine if sclerotherapy is the best option to meet your needs and goals.