Sclerotherapy is the most effective treatment for varicose veins and spider veins – a condition we most often associate with aging. The fact is, varicose veins and spider veins affect adults of all ages, and today, sclerotherapy is a popular and affordable treatment for anyone who wants to rid themselves of the unsightly and sometimes painful condition.
The procedure involves injecting a solution of directly into the vein that destroys the vein’s lining – this causes the vein to collapse which ultimately forces blood to reroute and flow through healthy veins. Treated veins are absorbed by the body and eventually fades. This therapy can be done in your doctor’s office and does not require anesthesia. You can usually return to normal activity immediately following treatment.
Varicose and spider veins in the legs can appear for a number of reasons. The pressure of body weight on the legs, force of gravity and the huge job of transporting the blood from the lower part of the body to the heart. Other factors that lead to the formation of varicose and spider veins are:
- Age – as you get older, the valves in your veins may weaken and pump the blood as effectively. This causes the blood volume in the vein to increase and results in distended or surface veins.
- Obesity – Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on your veins and may results in the development of varicose veins
- Genetics – being born with weak vein valves increases your risk of developing varicose or spider veins. Having a family member with the condition also increases your risk – in fact, approximately 50% of those who have varicose veins have a family member who has them.
- Hormonal changes – these occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Birth control pills Taking birth control pills or other hormone replacement therapies can result in varicose or spider veins.
- Pregnancy – during pregnancy, the body produces extra blood which can cause veins to enlarge. As pregnancy progresses, the growing baby puts pressure on the veins. More varicose and spider veins can appear with each additional pregnancy but they usually improve within 3 months after delivery.
- Lack of movement – inactivity forces the veins to work harder to pump blood to the heart. Sitting with legs bent or crossed for long periods of time or multiple times during the day can cause varicose and spider veins to form.
- Sun exposure – prolonged sun exposure increases the risk of tiny ‘spider veins’ breaking out around the nose, cheeks and chest area. Varicose veins often become worse in the summer due to the heat. That’s because when the body temperature rises, blood is drawn to the skin’s surface to help cool the body down. This extra flow of blood stretches the veins causing varicose or spider veins to develop.
About the Sclerotherapy Procedure
Sclerotherapy is quite a simple procedure. It is usually done in the doctor’s office and doesn’t require anesthesia. It generally takes less than an hour to complete.
After cleansing and preparing the area to be treated, your doctor will use a fine needle to slowly inject a solution into the affected vein. The solution works by irritating the lining of the vein, causing it to swell shut and block the flow of blood. Some doctors prefer to use a foam form of the solution, particularly when a larger vein is involved. Foam tends to cover more surface area than liquid.
Once the needle is withdrawn, compression is applied and the area is massaged to keep blood out of the injected vain and disperse the solution. The number of injections depends on the number and size of veins being treated.
After the procedure, you can get up and walk around. Moving is important if you want to prevent the formation of blood clots. You’ll be asked to wear compression stockings or bandages (usually for several days) to maintain compression on the treated veins.
Most people return to their normal activities immediately following the procedures. Take care to avoid sun exposure to the treated areas during the next few weeks – inflammation caused by the injections combined with sun exposure can lead to dark spots on your skin, especially if you already have a dark skin tone. The most common side effect from treating tiny spider veins is a temporary change in skin color along the vein site – that’s because the injectable agent could come in contact with neighboring skin and damage it temporarily.
Average cost of Sclerotherapy $300 – $1,000