Sclerotherapy is a sightly usual term for medical treatment, as “sclero” means “scar.” Used to treat varicose veins and spider veins, the treatment has a number of advantages for both patients and doctors. Here are the basics about sclerotherapy, courtesy of Metro Vein Centers in Detroit.
Basic Information About Veins
Veins must work against the flow of gravity and the force of the heartbeats is less than in the arteries, so veins get help to do their work. Contractions in the large muscles of the legs help pump blood upward against gravity. To prevent the blood from flowing backward in the pause that occurs between each heartbeat, veins also have small flaps of tissue called valves. The valves fall shut in the interval between heartbeats to block the vein and keep the blood in place. These valves can fail, however, and when they do, the blood pools in the vein. The excess blood distorts the veins and causes swelling; this is what we call varicose veins. Spider veins are simply a very small form of varicose veins and may occur anywhere, not just the legs.
What is Sclerotherapy Treatment?
Sclerotherapy was developed based on the knowledge that when the wall of a vein is irritated, it tends to swell and then collapse. If held in the collapsed position with pressure bandages or special stockings, the vein walls will scar closed. Sclerotherapy consists of a highly irritating solution or foam that is injected into the vein. After a few weeks, the collapsed vein scars closed and is gradually absorbed into the surrounding tissue. For spider veins, sclerotherapy is considered the gold standard; no matter how small a vein, the doctor can inject the irritant solution.
What’s Sclerotherapy Treatment Like?
Sclerotherapy is a simple procedure. For varicose veins you’ll be placed on your back with your legs elevated. After carefully cleaning the skin, the doctor will inject the solution into each vein to be treated. The needle used for the injection is very fine and will not leave a scar. Once the solution is injected, the doctor will massage the treatment area. Next, a compression bandage is applied (compression stockings for the legs). You’ll need to wear the stockings for a couple of weeks. Avoid the sun for a few weeks afterward to prevent darkened skin in the treated areas.
What Are the Advantages of Sclerotherapy Treatment?
Sclerotherapy is what is known as a minimally invasive procedure. It’s performed in the doctor’s office and you’ll be able to go home immediately afterward. With the exception of strenuous exercise, you can resume your normal activities within a day or so. You may have some minor bruising or swelling. As the veins are absorbed into the tissue, they become essentially invisible.
Please contact us if you have questions about sclerotherapy. We can schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to assess your condition and determine the best treatment. Please be aware that insurance companies consider sclerotherapy a cosmetic procedure and won’t usually pay for it.