Sclerotherapy is the gold standard for treatment for spider veins and varicose veins. Some practitioners use other forms of treatment such as lasers, but these do not work for leg spider veins. But as with any medical procedure, there is a risk of side effects. Fortunately, side effects are rarely serious or permanent, says Jacksonville vein specialist Dr. James St. George.
The side effect that patients most frequently ask about is the appearance of dark lines on the legs after the procedure, known as hyperpigmentation. Patients with a darker skin complexion or with dark hair color are at the greatest risk of developing this pigmentation. Though the reason is not completely clear, some believe that a form of iron that escapes from the blood in the injected veins causes the discoloration. Lines typically disappear within three to six months but can take up to two years to fully fade. In rare cases (about five percent), pigmentation can be permanent.
Other possible side effects of sclerotherapy include:
- Hardness or lumpiness that occurs in larger injected veins and lasts for several months;
- Raised, red-tinged areas appearing at the injection site and disappearing within several hours;
- Bruising around the injection site lasting for several days or weeks;
- The appearance of new tiny blood vessels around the treated area, known as matting. These may require additional injections.
Other, rarer side effects can be very serious. These include:
- Allergic reactions to the sclerosing agent, typically involving itching and swelling;
- Sudden onset of a swollen leg;
- Small ulcers forming at the injection site;
- Red streaking.
If you develop any of these more serious sclerotherapy side effects, call your doctor immediately.
To find out if sclerotherapy is the right treatment choice for your spider or varicose veins, call the St. Johns Vein Center at 877-640-VEIN (8346).