In Europe, sclerotherapy has been routinely used for more than 50 years by the medical specialty known as Phlebology. However, most American physicians do not understand the technique. Eighty-two percent of gynecologists surveyed did not have enough knowledge to advise patients who requested information on the treatment of varicose and spider veins. A survey has shown that American women are more concerned with their spider veins than with any other cosmetic problem.
Three types of sclerotherapy are offered for treatment
Each of the three different types of sclerotherapy (ultrasound, liquid or foam) involves the injection of a sclerosing (or hardening) medication into the abnormal veins. In a typical sclerotherapy session, you’ll lie down on an examination table while the skin over your spider veins or varicose veins is cleansed with an antiseptic solution. Your doctor then will stretch hold your skin taught and begin injecting the solution into affected veins with very tiny (30g) needles. Roughly one injection is administered for every inch of spider or varicose vein, so your session might involve as few as five or as many as 40 injections per treatment, depending upon the severity of your vein condition.
Sclerotherapy is quick and relatively pain free
Pain is minimal. A full treatment generally lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and there is little or no downtime for recovery. Your doctor may instruct you to wear compression hose for a week following treatment, to help keep the veins compressed and the blood from pooling back into your veins. And you’ll be encouraged to walk regularly. In addition to the cosmetic benefits of sclerotherapy, many patients experience improved leg health.
If you’re pregnant, it is advised to wait
However, as Dr. St. George says, sclerotherapy isn’t for everyone. Pregnant women in particular should not consider undergoing sclerotherapy treatments until 3-4 months after they’ve given birth, as most pregnancy-related spider and varicose veins will disappear on their own with time. Also, if you plan to breastfeed, be aware that it’s unknown how sclerosing solutions affect breast milk. Patients who have had blood clots in the past may or may not be suitable candidates for sclerotherapy, depending upon the reason for the clot and the overall health of the area needing treatment.
If you’re experiencing unsightly or uncomfortable spider or varicose veins, Jacksonville’s St. Johns Vein Center can help. Call toll free 877-640-VEIN (8346) or schedule a consultation online.