Sclerotherapy: A Treatment for Varicose and Spider Veins

Varicose veins are large twisted veins that appear closely on the skin surface of your legs. They occur when blood pools in the veins instead of flowing to the heart, usually due to weakened or damaged valves. For most people, varicose veins are asymptomatic, and treatment is mainly due to cosmetic concerns. However, varicose veins may cause bothersome symptoms like pain, cramping, and swelling for some. The good news is that Dr. Eugene Tanquilut Tinley Park offers sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins and spider veins. Spider veins are more minor forms of varicose veins.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a medical treatment proven effective in treating varicose and spider veins. The procedure involves injecting a solution directly into the affected veins; the solution irritates the vein walls, causing them to swell and stick or slump together. When the damaged veins scare, blood reroutes through healthier veins, and the collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue, eventually fading away. It may take up to a few weeks for the treated veins to fade, but sometimes, final results are noticeable after a month or more. Sometimes your healthcare provider may recommend multiple sclerotherapy treatments to achieve the desired outcome.

Who is a good candidate for sclerotherapy?

Before scheduling for sclerotherapy, discuss with your vascular specialist to establish your eligibility for the procedure. Generally, sclerotherapy is not an option for pregnant and breastfeeding women; if you are pregnant, your doctor may recommend the process at least three months after giving birth. Bedridden patients are also not ideal candidates for this procedure because they risk blood clots. Your vascular specialist may also advise against sclerotherapy if you have a blood clotting disorder or a history of blood clots. However, eligibility for sclerotherapy if you have had a blood clot before depends on the cause and severity

Sclerotherapy procedure

You will lie on your back with your legs slightly propped up during treatment. Your doctor cleans the areas to be treated with a disinfectant before inserting a solution into the damaged veins using a needle. The doctor may combine the solution with a local anesthetic called lidocaine; the solution irritates the vein walls, causing them to swell, shut, and block blood flow. As your provider inserts the needle, you may feel minor stinging or cramps, but this should not cause excruciating pain. If you have a lot of pain, inform your doctor immediately; that may indicate that the solution has leaked from the vein to the surrounding tissue.

After the needle is withdrawn, your provider massages and compresses the area to disperse the solution and keep blood away from the treated vessel. If several veins need treatment, you will have a compression pad on the treated site as the doctor moves to the next vein.

Over time, the veins become scar tissue and eventually fade away. If more prominent varicose veins are involved, your vascular specialist uses foam instead of a liquid solution because foam covers more surface area than liquid. Your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings for about two weeks to keep the treated veins compressed.

If you have varicose veins, consult your provider at Vascular Specialist to know if sclerotherapy is an option.