Do you often wear pants or long skirts to hide unsightly veins? Spider veins are characterized by a “spiderweb” of tiny, tree-like, bluish veins that appear most commonly in the legs. They can be very obvious and embarrassing. Cosmetic sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure that targets this condition. According to RealSelf, sclerotherapy has earned a 90% “Worth It” rating.
What is a Sclerotherapy Treatment?
During sclerotherapy, a substance called hypertonic saline (concentrated salt water) is injected into the spider veins. The injected substance hardens the tissues of the blood vessel, which irritates the lining of the vein. In the next few months, the body naturally absorbs the blood vessels, causing the spider veins to fade. The discolored veins disappear after about 3-6 weeks. We recommend 1-3 sclerotherapy treatments, depending on the amount and size of the veins. Since sclerotherapy is considered a cosmetic procedure, it’s typically not covered by insurance.
What Can I Expect from a Sclerotherapy Procedure?
Sclerotherapy is a safe, comfortable procedure that doesn’t require incisions or anesthesia. The length of each treatment usually takes less than an hour, but depends on the size and quantity of the spider veins. The patient sits back in the physician’s chair, elevating the legs. The skin is cleansed with alcohol and then the injections are performed to the targeted veins. Some patients may feel mild stinging but it goes away shortly. After the injections, the physician applies a compression bandage and massages the area to disperse the solution.
We use sclerotherapy in conjunction with our laser treatment procedure if the patient has veins that are too small for injection.
Recommended Pre-Treatment Instructions
You’ll want to bring loose-fitting shorts to your appointment. Don’t use moisturizers, body lotion, or oils on your legs 24 hours before your appointment. Avoid blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Vitamin E, or Gingko Biloba 48 hours before (and after) your scheduled appointment. Avoid smoking or drinking. You can eat a light snack 90 minutes beforehand. If you get a fever before your appointment, you must reschedule.
What Happens After Sclerotherapy? Aftercare Instructions
Sclerotherapy requires no downtime; patients have the luxury of returning to their daily tasks right away. Patients are asked to keep their compression stockings on for about two weeks. You may be asked to avoid strenuous exercise for 2 weeks to help the veins heal. You should avoid sun exposure as much as possible; the sun can make the healing process longer and form dark areas around the injection site. To encourage healthy veins, try to lead a healthy lifestyle – maintain a healthy body weight and avoid long periods of standing or sitting.
Are There Any Side Affects to Sclerotherapy?
Some patients notice a reaction after sclerotherapy that looks like hives, but it clears quickly. The targeted area might be red and itchy for the first day. There may be some bruising around the blood vessel, and in some cases those bruises get worse before they get better, but they clear up after a few weeks.
Disclaimer: Remember, each patient is different. Results will vary.