What is Sclerotherapy?

What is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a treatment for spider veins as well as varicose veins. It’s has been around for over 150 years but the most effective techniques were first used in the 1940s.

Today, sclerotherapy is still the gold standard for treating spider veins and other surface leg veins, despite the availability of newer technology such as vascular lasers. This is mainly because sclerotherapy closes the feeding vessels that cause spider veins to form, which means eradication is more effective. It also helps reduce the risk of recurrence in that area.

During a sclerotherapy treatment, a solution (sclerosant) is injected into an abnormal vein to injure the lining of the vein. Once the vein has been injured it will “sclerose”, which means it will harden, close and eventually disappear. Multiple small injections will be required during one treatment and the patient will need to wear a special compression stocking or sock for 1-2 weeks.

The sclerosant that is used during sclerotherapy treatments can be in the form of a solution (used for spider veins) or foam (used for varicose veins).

Treating smaller veins will require multiple visits spaced 3-4 weeks apart. Some mild discomfort will be experienced during the treatment but there won’t be any lingering pain or downtime. One or both legs can be treated in one session but this is dependent on the number of veins that will need to be addressed.

In contrast, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy for varicose veins usually requires 1-2 visits to achieve noticeable eradication and improve the symptoms associated with the vein (eg. aching, heaviness, throbbing & itching).

It is recommended that strenuous exercise be avoided for 48 hours but walking for at least 30 minutes a day will ensure your deeper veins are operating effectively.

Like all treatments, there are risks involved with sclerotherapy. Luckily, the nasty ones are rare.

It’s important to keep in mind that your legs might look worse before they get better. Patients can expect some mild bruising for 1-2 weeks as well as mild discomfort in certain areas. Some patients experience prolonged periods of bruising that last several months. This side effect is called staining, which refers to a gradual breakdown of the treated veins. In very rare instances, DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or a skin ulcer can occur.

Dr Omarjee has been assessing and treating spider veins and varicose veins for over 13 years.