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What is Sclerotherapy?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sclerotherapy is a cosmetic surgery to treat telangiectasias, otherwise known as spider veins. Spider veins are a common problem that affects almost half of the female population. They appear on the legs and calves as small veins that are blue, purple or red. Spider veins also appear on men, but not nearly as often.

Plastic surgeons have been performing sclerotherapy in Europe for over 50 years. It has become a popular surgical procedure in America in the past ten years. The sclerotherapy procedure can also be used to eliminate other effects of spider veins, such as night cramps and swelling or aching legs.

There are a number of reasons why spider veins occur. They may be a hereditary complaint passed on through members of the family. The sufferer may have an occupation that requires standing for long periods of time. Recent weight gain or pregnancy may also contribute to the appearance of spider veins.

Before sclerotherapy treatment, the doctor will make a thorough examination of the leg area to be treated. The doctor should also ask many questions about the patient's medical history and any other problems that have occurred in the affected area. He or she will also check for other complaints, such as deep vein problems, that can only be treated by a specialist.

Also, before the sclerotherapy procedure, the doctor will give the patient a number of guidelines to be followed. No applications of sunscreen or moisturizer can be applied. also, oils of any kind must not be applied to the legs. As this is a simple procedure, performed without anesthesia, wearing shorts or a short skirt is advised.

The sclerotherapy surgery itself consists of injecting a sclerosing agent into the veins. One injection is used for every inch of vein. The doctor will pull the skin tight over the vein and use a bright light and a magnifying device for extra precaution. Depending on the size of the vein problem, the number of injections can range anywhere from around five to 50.

The sclerotherapy treatment should last no longer than 15 minutes. There should be no pain involved, and the patient should feel quite comfortable during the procedure. After the procedure is over, tape that has been used during the procedure will be kept on to prevent blood clots. Wearing surgical hose may also be advised to prevent clots.

There will be bruising and discolored marks on the legs after sclerotherapy. These should disappear within approximately one month. Some cramping in the leg area may also occur, but this should not last for more than a few days. The end result of sclerotherapy is healthier looking skin in the treated area. Sclerotherapy will not prevent new spider veins from occurring; if this happens, more treatments may be necessary.

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Discussion Comments

By anon43509 — On Aug 29, 2009

how soon can i exercise after having done sclerotheraphy?

By Adnerb — On Apr 11, 2009

Sclerotherapy consists of solution *injected* into the legs with needles, therefore there *is* discomfort and it is at times severe albeit momentarily. Purchase the pantyhose version of a compression garment as the thigh-high ones merely slide down and get ruined quite quickly because you are constantly yanking them up and thus sticking your fingers through them.

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