Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to treat patients with varicose veins and “spider veins.” During sclerotherapy, the physician injects a solution directly into the affected vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.
Sclerotherapy is a well-proven procedure and has been used since the 1930s.
Sclerotherapy is performed in a doctor’s office. The treatment area is washed.
The solution is injected directly into the vein, using very fine needles. The number of veins injected in one session depends on the size and location of the veins, and your overall medical condition.
Sclerotherapy works well for most patients. Each treatment session is successful for as many as 50 to 80% of the injected veins. Less than 10% of patients who have sclerotherapy do not respond to the injections at all. In these cases, different solutions or a different treatment method, such as laser therapy, may be tried.
In general, spider veins respond to treatment in 3 to 6 weeks, and larger veins respond in 3 to 4 months. If the veins respond to the treatment, they usually do not return. However, new veins may appear over time. If needed, you may return for injections.
Before the procedure, you will meet with a vascular specialist to see if you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy.
You cannot have sclerotherapy if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or can’t get out of bed. If you are pregnant, you need to wait at least three months after delivery before you can be considered for this procedure. You can have sclerotherapy if you take birth control pills. If you have had a blood clot in the past, your doctor will consider your personal history, including the cause of the clot and where it occurred, to determine your eligibility.
Sclerotherapy is generally not used on veins that may potentially be used in future surgical bypass procedures (such as the saphenous vein for coronary artery bypass graft surgery) unless it is already considered unusable.
Medications: Before your procedure, please follow these medication guidelines:
Other guidelines before the procedure
You may have mild discomfort when the veins are injected. You may feel cramping for 1 to 2 minutes when larger veins are injected.
The sclerotherapy procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
Side effects of sclerotherapy may include:
Rare side effects you should tell your doctor about right away include:
You will be able to drive yourself home after your procedure. It is important to walk, and you will be able to go back to your regular activities.
You will need to wear support hosiery or compression wraps to keep the treated veins squeezed into place. You can buy these stockings at any Cleveland Clinic pharmacy.
Support stockings sold at other stores may not offer the right amount of pressure, depending on the strength of the stockings your doctor prescribes.
For 48 hours after your procedure, please follow these guidelines:
Wash the injection sites with a mild soap and lukewarm water.
Call your doctor if you have any concerns or questions after the procedure.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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