Sclerotherapy, a proven medical procedure that has been in use since the 1930s, is used to eliminate varicose veins and spider veins. During the procedure a solution (generally a salt or an irritating solution) is injected directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to swell and stick together and the blood to clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.

At the point of injection, you may experience mild discomfort and/or cramping for one to two minutes, especially when larger veins are injected.

Sclerotherapy is performed in the doctor’s office by a dermatologist or a surgeon, and the procedure itself takes approximately 15 to 45 minutes. The number of veins injected in one session depends on the size and location of the veins, as well as your general medical condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for Sclerotherapy?

Prior to sclerotherapy, you will have an initial consultation with a dermatologist or vascular medicine specialist who will determine if the procedure is right for you.

Sclerotherapy is not recommended in the following circumstances:

  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have had a blood clot in the past, your eligibility will depend on the overall health of the area needing treatment as well as the reason for the clot.
  • If you are flying for more than a 2 hr flight
  • If you have had surgery in the last 3 months
  • If you are on anticoagulants¬† or have had a reaction to Sclerotherapy in the past.

After sclerotherapy, you will be able to drive yourself home and resume your regular daily activities. Walking is encouraged; however, aerobic activity is not.

You will be instructed to wear support hosiery to “compress” the treated vessels. If you have compression hosiery from previous treatments, you are encouraged to bring them with you to be certain they still have adequate compression. Department store support stockings will not be adequate if a heavy compression stocking is needed. Your doctor’s office can recommend where to purchase heavy compression stockings.

Following the injections, avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory drugs for at least 48 hours. Tylenol may be used if needed.

Also, for 48 hours after treatment, you should avoid:

  • Hot baths
  • Hot compresses to the treated area
  • Whirlpools or saunas
  • Direct exposure to sunlight
  • Long airplane flights

Showers are permitted, but the water should be cooler than usual. The injection sites may be washed with a mild soap and tepid water.

How Effective Is Sclerotherapy?

Studies have shown that as many as 50%-80% of injected veins may be eliminated with each session of sclerotherapy. Less than 10% of the people who have sclerotherapy do not respond to the injections at all. In these instances, different solutions can be tried. Although this procedure works for most people, there are no guarantees for success.

In general, spider veins respond in three to six weeks, and larger veins respond in three to four months. If the veins respond to the treatment, they will not reappear. However, new veins may appear at the same rate as before. If needed, you may return for injections.

Does Insurance Cover Sclerotherapy?

Insurance coverage for sclerotherapy varies. If your varicose veins are causing medical problems such as pain, achy legs, or chronic swelling, your insurance may offer reimbursement. If you are pursuing sclerotherapy for cosmetic purposes only, your insurance carrier most likely will not provide coverage.

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