Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a procedure used to treat superficial blood vessels, or “spider veins”, on the legs.  We are uncertain as to how the veins are formed, but they tend to be hereditary, caused by trauma to the skin, standing for long periods of time, or pregnancy.  The vessels are injected with a concentrated but safe salt water solution, known as hypertonic saline.  The vessels then dry out, causing them to collapse, and eventually disappear.  More than one treatment may be needed.

What You Should Know Prior To Treatment

 

What is Sclerotherapy, and how does it work?

Sclerotherapy is a technique in which a sclerosing solution is injected into small unwanted vessels of the skin. No one is certain how these veins form, but they tend to be more common in some families, often times being worsened by mechanical trauma to the skin, standing for long periods of time, or pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are no proven measures to prevent the development of these types of superficial vessels, but support hose, weight reduction, and exercise can be helpful.

A variety of sclerosing solutions are utilized in sclerotherapy, but one of the safest and most is a concentrated salt water solution (known as hypertonic saline). The sclerosing solution is injected directly into the superficial blood vessels, causing the small cells which line the inner walls of the veins to dry out resulting in disappearance of the vessel. These small skin surface vessels are not essential for adequate blood supply to the extremities in healthy individuals, but each prospective patient will be evaluated for appropriateness and safety of treatment.

Will the injections hurt?

A very small needle will be used to inject the solution. A sensation of stinging, burning, aching, or even cramping in the treated area may occur as the sclerosing solution passes through the vessels. This feeling is only temporary, and subsides several seconds to minutes after the injection. Occasionally, these sensations can last up to 12-24 hours after the procedure. Each individual is different, and we will discuss the discomfort related to the procedure during a consultation visit.

What are the potential risks?

Like any cosmetic procedure, there are risks with sclerotherapy.  Redness and swelling of the skin are common immediately after treatment.  Occasionally, there may be a discoloration or even a small sore at the site of injection.  More rare and serious risks exist.  We will discuss the risks in detail with you prior to treatment.

What should I expect immediately after treatment, and how should I care for the treated area?

You may be asked to wear either a compression dressing or compression hose after treatment.  We also recommend that you minimize physical activity for several days after treatment.  We will discuss detailed care instructions with you at your consultation visit.

Does the correction last forever, and if not how often will I require treatment?

The response to treatment varies from person to person.  The number of times sclerotherapy has to be performed varies with the number of areas that have to be injected, the response to each injection, and the degree of desired improvement.  As a rule, previously treated areas can be retreated every 6-8 weeks if needed.  While the results from sclerotherapy are long lasting, new blood vesssels may eventually form in previously treated areas.

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