For patients with annoying spider or small varicose veins, sclerotherapy is by far the most common treatment. Performed almost exclusively on an outpatient basis at a vein clinic, it offers patients a short recovery time and excellent results for getting rid of these vessels.
Sclerotherapy : A Simple Spider Vein Treatment
Physicians who use this technique are vein doctors, also known as vascular surgeons. The procedure is very straightforward. According to Womenshealth.gov, this vein treatment involves using a needle to inject a specially manufactured chemical into a targeted vein.
Vein doctors often order ultrasound studies before the procedure to locate all the blood vessels to be targeted. Once the physician has injected the sclerosant, the liquid causes swelling in the walls of a vein. They begin to stick together and eventually seal shut, blocking further blood flow through the vessel.
Healthier veins nearby take over the workload of sending blood to the heart. The collapsed vein fades and is eventually absorbed by the body.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute indicates that physicians sometimes use a procedure known as microsclerotherapy to treat spider veins and other very small varicose vessels. This requires using a very thin needle in order to inject a small amount of sclerosing liquid.
It is sometimes necessary to treat the same vessel multiple times to eliminate it. A typical treatment schedule includes appointments every four to six weeks.
This technique is primarily used for cosmetic purposes. However, for some patients, it improves symptoms like burning, aching, night cramps, or swelling, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What to Expect at the Vein Clinic
At an initial consultation, the surgeon will take a medical history, do a physical exam, and confirm that a patient has realistic goals before scheduling the procedure. During the treatment, a patient lies on his or her back, with legs elevated slightly. The physician cleanses the targeted area and slowly inserts the sclerosing solution. Some patients report minor cramping or stinging.
After withdrawing the needle, the physician applies compression and massages the area treated to disperse the sclerosant and make sure blood stays out of the treated vein. After a brief rest, patients can get up and walk. Wearing compression stockings is necessary for about three weeks. Otherwise, most individuals are able to resume normal activities on the day of surgery.
Veins treated with a sclerosing agent usually begin to fade in just a few weeks. Definitive results should be visible within three to six weeks for small veins and as long as three to four months for larger vessels.
Depending on the number of veins present, eliminating all the targeted vessels could take several sessions. However, vascular surgeons stress that this varicose vein treatment will not prevent new veins from forming. The success rate for this procedure is as high as 80 percent.