Vein sclerotherapy is a method used by physicians to treat spider veins and varicose veins. Varicose veins are most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50, but anyone can suffer from them. People that overweight, pregnant, have hormonal problems or a genetic predisposition toward developing varicose veins are most likely to be affected.
In a healthy leg, the veins have a series of valves that push blood up the leg. The blood is traveling against gravity as it moves toward the heart. If something goes wrong with the valves in the leg, blood can pool, causing problems.
When the blood pools in the veins of your legs it increases pressure in the veins, weakening the vein walls. This leads to the veins becoming weakened, enlarged and twisted. Spider veins are similar. They are smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. They also generally appear in a circular pattern.
Vein sclerotherapy is a medical procedure that can treat both spider veins and varicose veins. Another term for the procedure is injection therapy. Doctors perform vein sclerotherapy as an office procedure, and each session typically lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.
In vein sclerotherapy, a solution, typically a saline mixture, is injected directly into the varicose vein or spider vein. The sclerosing solution irritates the interior of the vein wall. This irritation causes the vein to shut itself off. The blood that would normally travel though this vein is rerouted into a healthy vein. Once the vein closes off, it will gradually atrophy and become less visible.
Spider veins or minor varicose veins may be completely treated after one or two sessions. Larger varicose veins can take two to four treatments to disappear. Although some improvement in the varicose vein is visible almost immediately, it can take several weeks to fully see the affect of the procedure. For this reason, most doctors will recommend waiting several weeks between each treatment.
Vein sclerotherapy is considered a safe and nearly pain-free procedure. Expect to feel a small prick when the doctor makes each injection, as well as a mild burning sensation when the solution enters the vein. No anesthesia is used during the procedure. Most doctors recommend that you wear compression stockings after the treatment to ensure the best results. Walking is also recommended, and normal activities can be resumed nearly immediately.