When potential patients research medical and cosmetic treatments, including solutions for varicose and spider veins, questions about side effects and aftercare are often at the forefront of their minds. In fact, “What are the side effects of vein treatment?” is a top-searched question among those considering spider vein removal or varicose vein treatment. Prospective patients want to know (and rightly so!), just what to expect from vein therapy and what could happen once they leave the clinic after their appointment. But with modern, minimally invasive vein treatment options, is there anything to be worried about?
What Does Minimally Invasive Mean?
Minimally invasive vein treatments are designed to help the body reabsorb unhealthy veins without the painful, heavy-handed approach of out-of-date options like vein ligation and vein stripping, which are only done in a hospital. The beauty of minimally invasive techniques is that they create very little strain on the patient, and so very little is required of their bodies when it comes to recuperation. To ensure patients are comfortable, we offer localized numbing (lidocaine injections) that lasts for the duration of the 30-minute appointment. With just a few injections, administration of laser energy, or use of radiofrequency, patients can walk right out after treatment and can even drive themselves home.
Because the physical demand is so minor, risks for minimally invasive vein treatments are extremely low.
What Are Potential Side Effects of Vein Treatment?
Side effects vary from treatment to treatment and even among patients — no two legs are the same (not even your own two legs!). Any new patient can react differently to different methods of removing varicose veins and spider veins from the legs. Variations largely depend on a patient’s body and what it reacts to in day-to-day life. Those who bruise like peaches from merely bumping their knee on a table’s edge may experience bruising following a needle poke for localized numbing. Injection sites may swell. Fair complexions and/or sensitive skin may see redness or irritation after laser spider vein removal.
The treatment location also plays a part in whether or not there will be side effects: Spider veins on the back of the knee, the heel, the ankle, and the thigh are all located on skin with different thicknesses, which can affect how a laser interacts with the skin’s surface.
Another outside factor that can affect the body following vein treatment is aftercare. Our team of vein specialists recommend compression stockings to be worn for three days (on average) following most vein treatments. This helps reduce any temporary swelling a patient may experience and improves circulation. Some patients may be advised to wear their compression socks for a few more days, depending on how their legs are reacting post-appointment. It is also generally recommended to go on a few light walks in the days after your treatment to keep blood circulation moving. Following aftercare instructions will ensure you see the best results possible.
Occasional Side Effects
Some of the minor, temporary side effects patients may experience from injectable vein treatments like sclerotherapy are:
- Bruising at the injection site
- Inflammation or redness at the injection site
Patients who bruise when getting shots or vaccinations at doctor’s appointments, or those with sensitive skin, are likely to experience similar reactions from sclerotherapy, as it is administered via a small needle. Side effects for sclerotherapy, which is most often used for superficial spider veins and small varicose veins, can include hyperpigmentation and/or light scarring, and may be aggravated by time in the sun. Scarring after sclerotherapy may be avoided through appropriate aftercare.
Uncommon side effects may occur in patients with extremely pigmented spider veins. Small marks of hyperpigmentation can appear where very dark spider veins were removed; this happens when iron in the blood gets trapped, and it typically shows as a small brown spot. These small marks fade with time, though some may take months to fade completely.
Allergic reactions are incredibly rare, but always a concern in medical practices. Histamine reactions can occur in patients who are sensitive to the injected medicine, and is usually the first warning that a patient has an allergy to medication at all! Patients who are prone to migraines may experience headaches after treatment, although this is extremely uncommon and may be brought on by other factors experienced throughout the day.
For treatments that target deeper veins, such as radiofrequency ablation (which uses radiofrequency energy to gently close larger, painful varicose veins), the potential side effects may differ slightly.
- There may be some aching in the legs or minor discomfort in the days following treatment due to compression garments. (Although we love what they do for our circulation, we can admit they are not terribly comfortable.)
- Minimal scarring is rare but possible from light incisions made if a catheter is inserted into the vein, but any sign of these minor incisions will likely fade with time and can be improved by post-care scar lightening creams such as Dermeka.
- The most common side effects for deep vein treatments are tenderness, inflammation, and bruising, all of which are temporary.
We always follow-up with an ultrasound assessment at your post-treatment appointment to make sure everything is healing smoothly. Our goal is to get you back to healthy, happy legs; we won’t leave you hanging with unanswered questions, and if you’re experiencing discomfort we encourage you to contact your patient care team so we can see you in our clinic to discuss your concerns directly.
Aftercare (You’re Not On Your Own)
We make sure that all of our patients know what to expect when they begin treatment at any of our New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, or Texas clinics. Our patient care team will schedule any additional appointments needed to achieve full results (some treatments may require one, two or four treatments, depending on the issue’s severity). After appointments, we will call to follow up on how you’re feeling after you leave our clinics. If you experience any abnormal-to-you issues, our team will make sure you can see your team of doctors and find out what’s going on. If you’re experiencing an abnormal side effect, we’ll get you the care you need to feel your best again.
You are never alone in your vein treatment journey. You won’t be left to wonder what to expect, what’s happening, or what (if anything) might be wrong after your treatment. We’re here for you every step of the way.
Trusted insight from the nationally accredited, board-certified vein doctors at Metro Vein Centers.