Sclerotherapy is one of two types of treatment for spider veins. While these small red or blue veins close to the skin’s surface seldom cause medical problems, most patients are curious about what a treatment might be like. Understanding what to expect from the procedure and what it can accomplish helps reduce any stress associated with upcoming treatment.
What to Expect During a Session
Vein doctors perform sclerotherapy as an outpatient procedure to eliminate spider and small varicose veins without removing them from the body. After the physician determines that a patient is a good candidate, the staff provides information on what to do and what to avoid before the appointment.
Most patients prefer to arrive for a sclerotherapy session in loose, comfortable clothes such as a pair of shorts. After changing into a gown, a patient lies on the back with legs at a slight elevation.
The Mayo Clinic indicates that after the staff cleanses the targeted area, the physician uses a fine needle to inject a special substance called a sclerosant into each vein to be treated. Although the sclerosant is usually liquid, doctors sometimes use a foam, especially if treating a larger vessel. Some sclerosants contain lidocaine, a local anesthetic. A session usually takes less than 15 minutes.
The injected sclerosant causes irritation to the lining of a vein. The vessel swells shut, which halts its ability to transport blood. Healthy vessels near the treated one pick up the circulation workload. A treated blood vessel turns into scar tissue over time and disappears.
Some individuals report minor cramping or stinging with needle insertion. After the physician withdraws the needle, the staff applies compression to the area and massages it to spread out the sclerosant. How many injections are necessary depends on the size and the number of targeted veins.
After Sclerotherapy on Spider Veins
After a session, the staff encourages each patient to start walking to help prevent blood clots from forming. Discharge orders normally list the need to wear compression stockings for a specified period, typically about two weeks, and to avoid sun exposure. Although orders also usually caution against strenuous activity during that period, most individuals can resume their normal routines the same day as their sclerotherapy session.
Physicians normally schedule a return visit in about a month to evaluate the need for any additional treatment. Results from spider vein treatment are usually obvious within six weeks. It might take as long as four months to see results from treatment of larger vessels.
Many patients require multiple sessions to achieve desired results. According to Stony Brook Medicine, after each session, a patient can expect between 50 and 90 percent improvement. Since no treatment can prevent new veins from forming, some patients return periodically for additional sclerotherapy.