What is Sclerotherapy?

A procedure that treats blood vessels or its malformations like varicose veins, sclerotherapy involves injecting medicine into the blood vessels that make them shrink. Children and adults with vascular or lymphatic malformations go in for this treatment. Adults with spider veins, hemorrhoids or small varicose veins usually opt for this treatment.

Why it’s done: Sclerotherapy is done for cosmetic reasons where the appearance of spider and varicose veins. It also improves other related symptoms such as swelling, night cramps, aches and burning sensations. If you are pregnant and have varicose or spider veins, it’s better to have sclerotherapy done after you deliver.

How sclerotherapy is performed: Usually, a salt solution is injected into the vein directly using a fine needle. This may make you cramp or give mild discomfort, particularly if the veins in question are large. The number of veins the doctor injects in one session largely depends on the size of the veins and their location, and your overall condition. Usually, it is performed by a dermatologist in his office or by a surgeon and requires that you stay away from aerobic exercise for a few days after the procedure is performed.

This procedure does not exceed 30 minutes.

Results: If you have undergone sclerotherapy on small spider or varicose veins, you can see results in three to six weeks. However, larger veins may need about four months to show results. Though treated veins do not come back, new veins are likely to appear.

You will need to go in for a follow-up visit to your doctor a month after the procedure and check if you need any further sessions. If you do, you would have to wait for about four to six weeks after the first procedure to have another sclerotherapy session.

Side-effects of sclerotherapy: After the procedure, you may experience some side-effects of sclerotherapy. The milder ones include itching for a day or two, or redness and bruising at the site of the injection. This usually lasts a few days.

Other side-effects include lumpy large veins that could fade in some months; brown spots or lines at the vein site that could take three to six months to disappear and neovascularization or the appearance of tiny blood vessels where sclerotherapy was done. You can spot them a few days after the procedure but they could fade within a year of treatment.

Sclerotherapy effectiveness: It has been found that sclerotherapy treats about 50%-80% of veins per session. Of course, its effectiveness varies from person to person, though on the whole, it is successful.