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Sclerotherapy

Spider veins or telangiectasis of the legs are a common problem that particularly affect women.  Small purple, blue or red veins can form anywhere on the leg, from the top of the thigh to the ankle, and can sometimes occur on the face as well.  These veins appear as connected lines resembling a sunburst or spider web pattern or as short, unconnected lines.  (Fig. A) On many people, they are relatively inconspicuous, because they are confined to a small area; however, some people become distressed when larger areas of skin are affected and the veins become more noticeable.

Varicose veins are larger, sometimes raised veins which are often blue in color.  These are not the deep veins connected with the valve system; however, they can become quite painful, producing a burning or throbbing sensation.  Although these superficial varicose veins and spider veins carry blood, neither are necessary to the circulatory system.

Today, because of modern technology, both telangiectasis and superficial varicose veins can be treated through a procedure called Sclerotherapy.  Sclerotherapy  is a technique which involves the use of a very fine needle to inject a solution directly into the veins.  The solution causes blood within the vein to disappear or become less obvious.

What causes spider veins and varicose veins?

No one has determined for certain why some people are affected with spider veins and varicose veins and others are not; however, some families seem predisposed to the condition.  Trauma to the leg in the form of blows or falls may contribute to the formation  of these veins, and long periods of standing or sitting may also be causative factors.  More women than men seem to develop this condition, perhaps as a result of pregnancy or because of hormones.  Scientists have not discovered any clear-cut methods to prevent the onset of these telangiectasis, although some authorities believe that the use of support hose, weight control and exercise may be beneficial.

Today, thousands of people who have felt self-conscious or embarrassed by unsightly veins are delighted with the results they are getting from Sclerotherapy treatment.  Most patients experience from 60% to 80% improvement, although final results may not be apparent for several months.

Sclerotherapy Treatment

Larger veins are usually treated first. After the skin is thoroughly cleansed with alcohol, the physician uses a syringe with a tiny needle to inject a small amount of sclerosing (hardening) solution directly into a vein.  (Fig. B) The solution displaces the blood within the vein, causing it to blanch or turn white.  The solution causes the vessel to become irritated and swell shut, prohibiting the blood from re-entering the vein.  When the needle is withdrawn, pressure is immediately applied to the area.  The skin may be kneaded to help disperse the solution and reduce bruising.  Each vein may require several injections and most disappear in two weeks to two months.

Sclerotherapy cannot be administered on tanned areas. We advise patients to avoid sun exposure post treatment.

Following Treatment

Patients who have had Sclerotherapy have reported little discomfort.  Some experience a slight to moderate burning sensation immediately after injection, but this disappears within a few seconds.

Patients are usually advised to resume normal activity immediately, although vigorous activity is discouraged for twenty-four hours.

Walking is encouraged because it increases the blood flow through the other veins.  Elevation of the legs is usually not recommended unless large veins have been treated.

Most patients experience no adverse effects, other than possible bruising around the treated area, which eventually disappears. Fair skinned people tend to bruise more often than dark skinned people.

In most cases, spider veins re-occur and new spider veins present themselves.  Wearing support hose is recommended to prevent their re-ocurrence.

Will insurance pay for sclerotherapy treatment?

Insurance companies do not pay for Sclerotherapy treatment when performed for cosmetic reasons. The Dermatology Center performs Sclerotherapy only for cosmetic purposes.

If you are interested in learning more about Sclerotherapy, please make an appointment for a FREE consultation to determine if you qualify as a candidate for Sclerotherapy treatments.