Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical medical procedure used to treat varicose veins and "spider veins". Varicose veins are abnormal veins that often appear on the legs and feet. Varicose or spider veins occur when the valves in the veins do not work properly. This causes problems with the blood flow, which can be seen through the skin. Some people are just more prone to varicose veins as it runs in the family.
Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive treatment of varicose veins. It involves a series of tiny microinjections into the veins directly into the varicose vein. A solution of a sclerosing agent (usually sodium chloride) is injected which then irritates the lining of the vessel. This causes it to swell, stick together and the blood to clot, destroying the vein. In time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades and becomes less visible, getting rid of varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy is often done to improve the appearance of varicose and spider veins on the legs, for cosmetic purposes, but it can also relieve the symptoms of varicose veins such as aching, swelling and night cramps.
After treatment you may feel a slight stinging sensation, but this should go away once you start walking. Your may have some bruising at the injection sites after treatment, but this should go away in 2 – 4 weeks. On average, spider veins respond to therapy within 3-6 weeks; larger veins respond in 3-4 months. When the veins respond positively, they should not reappear. You should expect a 60% decrease in the visibility of these spider veins.
In most cases, patients require between 1 – 3 treatments, but thereafter the effects of treatment can improve within a few months. However, new spider veins may appear in other areas, and then these will need treatment once again. You may also need a follow-up treatment for maintenance after a year or two of sclerotherapy.
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