What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is the process of treating malformations in the blood vessels such as spider veins, varicose veins, or even hemorrhoids by means of injecting a specifically formulated solution directly into these vascular malformations so that they shrink, form scar tissues, and eventually collapse so that they force blood circulation through the surrounding healthier veins. The veins that have initially collapsed will be assimilated by the body and eventually fade. This process will take anywhere from a few weeks up to a month to complete, and may need to be repeated for more prominent or troublesome veins.

What is the purpose of sclerotherapy?

The main reason for getting sclerotherapy is for the cosmetic benefit of improving the appearance of venous abnormalities on prominent areas of the body. Relatively, when these troublesome blood vessels are treated, the symptoms associated with their presence also begin to become alleviated by association. These symptoms include swelling, pain and discomfort, burning sensations on the affected areas, or painful night cramps.

Are there any risks associated to sclerotherapy?

Although scleroptherapy is considered to be a safe procedure, some patients have exhibited some minor complications associated to this type of treatment. Some of the temporary side effects occur locally at the site of injection and how they known to cause bruising, soreness, redness and tenderness on the affected area, darkening of the skin, or the appearance of what seems to be a multitude of tiny blood vessels across the treated area. These temporary side effects usually subside after several days.

In some cases, however, the complications that have been associated to sclerotherapy have required further treatment.

  • Blood clots at the site of injection have been known to develop within the treated veins, though it is rare for them to lead dodeep vein thrombosis, a serious condition that would require emergency treatment.

  • If inflammation occurs at the injection site, it may also lead to a more serious case of swelling and discomfort that may require the patient to take pain medication and an antibiotic regimen to manage the condition.

  • Though this is extremely rare, uring the process of injection, tiny air bubbles could make their way into the patient’s bloodstream and cause bouts of headaches, nausea, and even visual disturbances. They may also cause significantly more serious complications such as loss of sensation or abnormal movement of the limbs.

  • In rare cases, an allergic reaction may begin if the patient is found to be allergic to one or more of the components of the solution used for sclerotherapy.

How do I prepare for sclerotherapy?

A thorough physical examination is normally conducted by Dr. Scott Mosser in his San Francisco plastic surgery office before your sclerotherapy procedure to evaluate the condition of the veins that are indicated for the treatment. This also gives Dr. Mosser an opportunity to check if there are any underlying diseases that could affect the success of the procedure.

What happens during the procedure?

  1. Patients will be asked to lie down and their legs will be slightly elevated, and the area that is to be treated will be disinfected prior to the injections.

  2. Using a fine needle, the solution will slowly be injected directly into the appropriate vein. A liquid solution is usually used for smaller veins, while a foam solution is preferred for larger veins. Some patients report a cramping or minor stinging sensation during the injection process. If the pain at this stage becomes unbearable, the patient must notify the doctor immediately. The number of injections administered by the doctor will depend largely upon the number and size of that indicated vascular malformations.

  3. When the needle is withdrawn from the site of injection, compression massages may be applied onto that area to help keep the blood out of the just-treated blood vessel and give the solution time to disburse through the vein. Sclerotherapy may generally be administered for less than an hour, and does not require the patient to receive anesthesia.

  4. As the solution irrigates the vein, the walls and lining of the vein will begin to be irritated, causing the entire vein to swell shut, effectively blocking the blood flow. This mechanism of action causes the vein to become nothing more than scar tissue until it eventually disappears.

When will I see the results from sclerotherapy?

The results for treating smaller spider or varicose veins will typically be seen about six weeks after the injections, while larger veins could disappear completely after several months.