Those small blue or red veins on your legs are probably spider or varicose veins. For many patients, they represent confidence busters. For some, they are actually a source of discomfort. Sclerotherapy is the preferred method of treatment for spider and small varicose veins. Knowing what the procedure involves and reviewing who is a suitable candidate are important steps before scheduling a consultation at a vein clinic.
The Basics of Sclerotherapy
As many as 40 percent of U.S. adult women and up to 25 percent of men develop issues involving veins located in their lower legs, according to the University of Virginia Health System. The procedure vascular surgeons most frequently use for spider veins and as a varicose vein treatment when dealing with small vessels is sclerotherapy. During this outpatient treatment, vein doctors insert a small needle and inject a liquid manufactured specifically to trigger irritation in a targeted vessel.
The injected chemical hardens, causing the vein to start to collapse, University of Chicago Medicine says. Eventually, the vessel closes off and fades from view. Most patients report minimal if any pain or bruising from this procedure. Veins surrounding the one treated take up the workload of the vessel destroyed. Depending upon individual circumstances, a vascular surgeon might use ultrasound to locate vessels that need treatment before starting injections.
Sclerotherapy is not a new procedure. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it originated in the 1930s. In one session, a vascular specialist can eliminate as many as 80 percent of targeted veins. Overall, at least 90 percent of patients respond favorably to this treatment. Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for leg veins because injections allow doctors to treat both a small vein and underlying skin veins known as reticulars.
Who is a Good Candidate?
A consultation at a vascular clinic will determine whether an individual is a good candidate for this procedure. Ideal candidates are individuals who:
- Have developed realistic expectations
- Are able to follow instructions before and after sclerotherapy
- Have never had a serious blood clot
- Are in overall good health
- Fall between 30 and 60 years old
- Understand that the procedure will not stop the formation of new veins
- Are at least three months past pregnancy and delivery
Patients with these circumstances are not suitable candidates for sclerotherapy:
- Have a blood clot or disorder capable of causing vascular blockages
- Are bedridden
- Want to eliminate a vein that might eventually be used for a bypass
- Are on anticoagulant therapy
- Have had a past blood clot doctors labeled as extreme
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding a child
Because sclerotherapy does not prevent new spider or varicose veins from forming, periodic treatment sessions might be necessary. To learn more about vascular procedures, visit our Web site and schedule an appointment with a vein specialist to determine the best option for you.