Sclerotherapy uses a sclerosing solution injected into the spider veins, which causes them to collapse and fade from view.
How is the procedure performed?
Using one hand to stretch the skin taut, your doctor or nurse will begin injecting the sclerosing agent into the affected veins.
Approximately one injection is administered for every inch of spider vein - anywhere from five to 40 injections per treatment session. A cotton ball and compression tape is applied to each area of the leg as it is finished.
How long does the procedure take?
A typical sclerotherapy session is relatively quick, lasting only about 15 to 45 minutes.
How long is the recovery time?
Although you probably won't want to wear any leg-baring fashions for about two weeks, your activity will not be significantly limited in any other way from sclerotherapy treatment.
A one month healing interval must pass before you may have your second series of injections in the same site. After each treatment, you will notice further improvement of your leg's appearance.
Is Sclerotherapy permanent?
Typically, not all affected veins will disappear completely as a result of treatment. After each sclerotherapy session, the veins will appear lighter. Two or more sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results.
The procedure treats only those veins that are currently visable; it does nothing to permanently alter the venous system or prevent new veins from surfacing in the future.
Will I need anesthesia?
Treatments typically do not require sedatives, pain medications, or injections of local anesthetic.
Am I a good candidate for Sclerotherapy?
Most candidates fall in the 30 to 60 category. In some women, spider veins may become noticeable very early on in the teen years. For others, the veins may not become obvious until they reach their 40's.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may be advised to postpone sclerotherapy treatment. In most cases, spider veins that surface during pregnancy will disappear on their own within three months after the baby is born. Also, because it's not known how sclerosing solutions may affect breast milk, nursing mothers are usually advised to wait until after they have stopped breastfeeding.
Spider veins in men aren't nearly as common as they are in women. Men who do have spider veins often don't consider them to be a cosmetic problem because the veins are usually concealed by hair growth on the leg. However, sclerotherapy is just as effective for men who seek treatment.
Individuals with hepatitis, AIDS or other blood-borne diseases may not be candidates for sclerotherapy. Patients with circulatory problems, heart conditions, or diabetes may also be advised against treatment.
During your initial consultation, your legs will be examined. Your doctor may draw a simple sketch of your legs, mapping out the areas affected by spider veins or other problems. During the examination, you will be checked for signs of more serious "deep vein" problems, often indicated by swelling, sores, or skin changes at the ankle. A hand-held Doppler ultrasound device is sometimes used to detect any backflow within the venous system.
If such problems are identified, your surgeon may refer you to a different specialist for further evaluation. Problems with the larger veins must be treated first, or sclerotherapy of the surface veins will be unsuccessful.
Do not to apply any type of moisturizer, sunblock or oil to your legs on the day of your procedure. You may want to bring shorts to wear during the injections, as well as your physician prescribed support hose, and slacks to wear home.
Tight-fitting support hose may be prescribed to guard against blood clots and to promote healing. You may be instructed to wear the support hose for 72 hours or more.
It's not uncommon to experience some cramping in the legs for the first day or two after the injections. This temporary problem usually doesn't require medication.
You should be aware that your treated veins will look worse before they begin to look better. When the compression dressings are removed, you will notice bruising and reddish areas at the injection sites. The bruises will diminish within one month. In many cases, there may be some residual brownish pigmentation which may take up to a year to completely fade.
You will be encouraged to walk to prevent clots from forming in the deep veins of the legs. However, during the period of time to complete your treatment program, prolonged sitting and standing should be avoided, as should squatting, heavy weight lifting and "pounding" type exercises, including jogging.
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