Using Sclerotherapy To Treat Veins
Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive procedure taking only about 10-15 minutes to perform. The downtime is minimal, in comparison to an invasive varicose vein surgery.
Injecting the unwanted veins with a sclerosing solution causes the target vein to immediately shrink, and then dissolve over a period of weeks as the body naturally absorbs the treated vein.
Unlike a laser, the sclerosing solution additionally closes the “feeder veins” under the skin that are causing the spider veins to form, thereby making a recurrence of the spider veins in the treated area less likely.
Multiple injections of dilute sclerosant are injected into the abnormal surface veins of the involved leg. The patient’s leg is then compressed with either stockings or bandages that they wear usually for two weeks after treatment. Patients are also encouraged to walk regularly during that time.
It is common practice for the patient to require at least two treatment sessions separated by several weeks to significantly improve the appearance of their leg veins.
Sclerotherapy can also be performed using microfoam sclerosants under ultrasound guidance to treat larger varicose veins, including the great and small saphenous veins. After a map of the patient’s varicose veins is created using ultrasound, these veins are injected whilst real-time monitoring of the injections is undertaken, also using ultrasound.
The sclerosant can be observed entering the vein, and further injections performed so that all the abnormal veins are treated. Follow-up ultrasound scans are used to confirm closure of the treated veins, and any residual varicose veins can be identified and treated.
Foam sclerotherapy is a technique that involves injecting “foamed sclerosant drugs” within a blood vessel using a syringe. The sclerosant drugs are mixed with air or a physiological gas (carbon dioxide) in a syringe or by using mechanical pumps. This increases the surface area of the drug.
The foam sclerosant drug is more efficacious than the liquid one in causing sclerosis (thickening of the vessel wall and sealing off the blood flow), as it does not mix with the blood in the vessel and in fact displaces it, thus avoiding dilution of the drug and causing maximal sclerosant action. It is therefore useful for longer and larger veins.
Complications, while rare, include venous thromboembolism, hyperpigmentation, or a red treatment area. Most complications occur due to an intense inflammatory reaction to the sclerotherapy agent in the area surrounding the injected vein.
As with any cosmetic procedure, it is important that you review your expectations thoroughly before you decide to proceed. Your specialist will explain the results you can expect, and will discuss the associated risks and alternatives to the procedure before going ahead.
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