Sclerotherapy

Synonyms

Spider veins, sunburst varicosities, telangiectasias, thread veins, varicose veins.

Background

Sclerotherapy is used to obliterate spider veins or varicose veins, which can appear anywhere on the leg. The veins are injected with a concentrated salt solution (sodium chloride.)

Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias or sunburst varicosities, are small, thin veins located near the surface of the skin. Although these super-fine veins are connected with the larger venous system, they are not an essential part of it. Occasionally, spider veins appear on the face.

Varicose veins are larger (usually more than a quarter-inch in diameter), darker in color and tend to bulge more than spider veins. Varicose veins are also more likely to cause pain and be related to more serious vein disorders. Some varicose veins may require surgery or laser therapy to remove.

Sclerotherapy is used to obliterate spider veins or varicose veins, which can appear anywhere on the leg. The veins are injected with a concentrated salt solution (sodium chloride.)

Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias or sunburst varicosities, are small, thin veins located near the surface of the skin. Although these super-fine veins are connected with the larger venous system, they are not an essential part of it. Occasionally, spider veins appear on the face.

Varicose veins are larger (usually more than a quarter-inch in diameter), darker in color and tend to bulge more than spider veins. Varicose veins are also more likely to cause pain and be related to more serious vein disorders. Some varicose veins may require surgery or laser therapy to remove.

Technique

The veins to be treated are marked while the patient is standing. The skin over the spider veins is cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Bright, indirect light and magnification help ensure that the process is completed with maximum precision. Larger veins are usually treated first.

In most cases, a 23% sodium chloride sterile solution mixed with lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and heparin (an anticoagulant) is injected into the blood vessel using a micro-needle. A solution without lidocaine is available for people who are allergic to lidocaine. The solution causes the vein to turn white (blanch), and then gradually disappear. A typical treatment lasts from 30 minutes to one hour.

Approximately one injection is administered for every inch of spider vein - anywhere from 5-40 injections per treatment session. A cotton ball and compression tape is applied to each area of the leg as it is finished.

Patients may feel a small prick when the needle is injected or a mild burning sensation. However, pain is generally minimal.

The number of veins injected in one session is varies depending on the size and location of the veins, as well as the patient's overall medical condition.

Complete correction is not expected on the first treatment. Only about 50-70% of the treated vessels will be permanently gone. Three to four treatments are generally required for optimal results.

In general, spider veins respond to treatment in 3-6 weeks, and larger veins respond in 3-4 months. If the veins respond to the treatment, they will not reappear. However, new veins may appear over time.

Patients may be asked initially to wear compression hosiery to help keep treated veins closed and to reduce bruising.

Following treatment, patients can immediately resume work and all normal activities. However, patients are advised to refrain from vigorous activities for the first 24 hours.


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