Sclerotherapy is a treatment for spider and varicose veins that was developed around 75 years ago. It is considered a particularly effective treatment for small varicose veins. During treatment, the doctor will inject a sclerosing agent into the affected vein that irritates and scars its walls. The vein eventually collapses, and the blood is rerouted through healthier veins. The body eventually absorbs the defective vein.
What Can You Expect?
Depending on the number of veins being treated, a typical session takes 15 to 45 minutes. Most patients will need at least two or three treatments to get the desired results.
After withdrawing the needle, the doctor will massage the treatment site to disperse the solution and keep blood from returning to it. They may apply a compression pad or have the patient wear a compression stocking for about two weeks after treatment.
What Is the Recovery Like?
Most people will be able to resume their usual activities after treatment, but they should avoid strenuous exercise for at least two weeks. Walking, though, can help prevent blood clots from forming.
The patient should avoid anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin for at least 48 hours, for they can increase bleeding. During that same time, they should also avoid hot baths, saunas, hot tubs, and direct exposure to sunlight. The patient may take a shower, but the water should be lukewarm or below. They should wash the injection site with lukewarm water and mild soap.
If the patient underwent sclerotherapy to treat small veins, they can expect to see results within three to six weeks. Larger veins take longer, so the patient may not see results until three or four months after treatment. If the patient needs more than one treatment, the sessions will be spaced at least six weeks apart.
How Should You Prepare?
The patient should tell the doctor about any drugs they are taking during their consultation. Some medications and supplements can increase the risk of complications like bleeding, and the doctor may advise the patient to stop taking them for at least a few days before the procedure. For example, the doctor may recommend Tylenol as a substitute for anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen.
On the day of the treatment, the patient should not shave or apply lotion to their legs. They should wear comfortable and loose clothing. Weather permitting, they may even want to wear shorts to give the doctor easy access to the treatment site.