What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are thick, ropy, bulging veins that may develop in the legs, arms or elsewhere. Many people seek treatment for varicose veins for cosmetic reasons. However, these veins pose a significant health risk, as well. They can lead to a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
At Valley Vein Center, providers offer several advanced therapies for treating this common health problem, including VenefitTM Targeted Endovenous Therapy and sclerotherapy. Learn more about your sclerotherapy options in Phoenix, AZ below.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a medical technique that’s been around for many years. During the procedure, the physician injects varicose or spider veins with a special solution, known as a sclerosant. This solution causes the veins to swell and eventually collapse. Blood then reroutes through other healthy veins in the leg. Over the course of several weeks (post-op), the swollen, collapsed veins turn into scar tissue and fade from sight. With sclerotherapy, there is no incision, and veins do not have to be removed – one reason why many patients and physicians prefer this varicose and spider vein treatment.
Who needs this procedure?
Individuals who want to get rid of unsightly spider veins may benefit from undergoing sclerotherapy. Also, sclerotherapy may be used for some instances of small varicose veins. Larger varicose veins may require a different kind of treatment, such as VenefitTM, as sclerotherapy is intended for use in smaller varicose veins.
When considering whether or not this procedure is right for you, it’s important to take into account the difference between spider veins and varicose veins. Spider veins are small broken veins that pose no health threat. These veins do not require treatment (though many people do treat them for cosmetic reasons). Varicose veins are larger, deeper veins, which have bulged out and appear beneath the skin. These veins can pose a threat to your health, and should be treated.
Are there any risks or side effects associated with sclerotherapy?
Some patients experience bruising, red bumps, sores, or darkening of the skin at the injection site. These minor side effects usually resolve themselves during a short time period. Other risks associated with sclerotherapy (that could require treatment) include inflammation, blood clotting, air bubbles in the bloodstream, and allergic reaction to the sclerosant (though very rare).
What should I do to prepare for my procedure?
Sclerotherapy is a relatively simple in-office procedure at Valley Vein Center. Very little preparation is required of the patient. Your Valley Vein Center health care team will provide you with all of the information you need to get ready. Follow the specific guidelines given to you. General guidelines are as follows:
- Some medications should be avoided prior to the procedure, including anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and aspirin) for 48 hours, antibiotics (such as tetracycline and minocycline) for 7-10 days before and after the procedure, and prednisone, a steroid commonly used to treat arthritis, severe allergies, and other inflammatory conditions.
- Don’t shave or apply any lotion for at least 24 hours before or after your procedure.
- Wear shorts, or bring shorts you can change into at our office.
- If you already have compression stockings, bring them with you to the procedure.
What happens during the procedure?
The entire in-office vein procedure takes less than an hour to complete, from start to finish. Also, there’s no need for anesthesia, which is another benefit for many people. During the procedure, you will be asked to lie on your back; your legs will be slightly raised.
The physician determines where to place the injection, and the injection site is sterilized with alcohol. A topical numbing agent may be administered. Once the skin is numb, your physician will inject the sclerosant into the vein. The sclerosant is typically liquid, but – depending on the size of the vein – could be foam. Minor stinging or cramping may accompany the injection; however, you should not feel much pain. Once all of the solution has been injected, the needle is withdrawn, and the area is compressed. Multiple veins may be injected in a single session, depending on size and location.
After the procedure, you will be asked to continue resting on your back for a few minutes so that your physician can confirm there is no bleeding or side effects. After walking around the office some, you will be free to go home. Your doctor wil provide you with information about wearing compression stockings. Most patients return to their normal activities the same day.
How successful is sclerotherapy for varicose veins and spider veins?
In most patients, sclerotherapy is an effective procedure – though you will need a little patience to see the results. Approximately 50 to 80 percent of injected veins are eliminated with each injection session. (Some patients undergo more than one round of injections.) Though it’s uncommon, some patients do not respond at all to sclerotherapy. These patients may benefit from other therapies.
Generally, patients can expect spider veins to resolve three to six weeks after treatment; varicose veins may take three to four months to disappear. Veins should not reappear (though new spider and varicose veins could develop).
Schedule Your Varicose Vein / Spider Vein Treatment in Phoenix, AZ
To schedule an appointment with a physician at Valley Vein Center in Phoenix, AZ, contact us at 602-234-0004.