Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive medical procedure that has also gained popularity in the field of aesthetic medicine. It is primarily used for treating varicose veins and spider veins found in the legs which are both common vascular conditions that affect millions of people around the globe. Our comprehensive guide will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about sclerotherapy, including its procedure, benefits, risks, recovery, and more.
What Is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure that involves injecting a series of micro-injections containing a specialised solution, known as a sclerosant, into the affected veins. The sclerosant causes irritation to the lining of the blood vessel, causing the veins to shrink, collapse, and eventually fade away after a few weeks. Patients typically seek sclerotherapy advice for cosmetic purposes. Both spider and varicose veins can be unsightly and may cause insecurity for patients. In addition to improving the appearance of these veins, sclerotherapy can also help alleviate symptoms commonly associated with them.
Sclerotherapy is mostly used for treating spider veins and small to medium-sized varicose veins, though they are both typically harmless.
Spider veins: Spider veins, also commonly referred to as thread veins, are a small cluster of blue or red veins that can appear in areas such as the legs, and on the face. People typically get spider veins due to long period of sitting or standing and can become more common as we age and during pregnancy. There are also other causes to spider veins such as hormonal changes and imbalance, injury, or sunlight.
Varicose veins: Varicose veins are typically more visible than spider veins; they are often more swollen, enlarged, and bulbous. Found most on the legs and feet, varicose veins may appear blue or dark purples, similarly to a bruise. Some other symptoms of varicose veins include heavy and uncomfortable legs and intense aching. The basic cause of varicose veins is increased blood pressure in the veins.
What’s The Procedure of Sclerotherapy?
During a sclerotherapy session, a qualified professional will use a fine needle to inject the sclerosant directly into the targeted vein. Before injecting, the practitioner will clean the surrounding area and stretch out the skin at the injection site. The number of veins treated in one session varies and depends on the size and location of the veins.
The solution irritates the inner lining of the vein, causing it to swell and stick together. Over a prolonged period, the veins will eventually disappear or fade. As the procedure continues, patients may feel the injection once the skin is compromised and possibly a mild burning sensation.
The procedure is relatively quick and can be completed within 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the number and size of the veins being treated. After treatment, patients can drive home and get back to their normal activities with minimal downtime.
The results of sclerotherapy are not immediate and may take several weeks to become apparent. Multiple treatment sessions may be necessary to achieve optimal results, depending on the severity and extent of the veins being treated.
Is Sclerotherapy Painful?
Whilst the level of pain will differ from each patient, it has been reported that whilst sclerotherapy doesn’t hurt, it can be slightly uncomfortable. As the injection is administered via a small and thin needle, patients have reported only feeling a small, sharp ‘prick’ sensation when the sclerosant is injected which is usually tolerated. In addition to the discomfort of injection, patients have also reported a slight stinging and burning sensation when the solution is injected but this is also typically well received.
It’s important that as a practitioner, you give your patient full transparency of what they should expect with a sclerotherapy treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy offers various benefits for individuals concerned with varicose veins or spider veins. Some of the most notable advantages include:
Improved Appearance of Veins
Perhaps one of the most commonly sought-after goals of sclerotherapy for patients is the end-result. This is because sclerotherapy has been shown to effectively reduce the appearance of varicose and spider veins, helping individuals regain confidence in the appearance of the affected area. The reduction of unsightly veins means that patients can go about their day without this insecurity.
Aside from improving cosmetic concerns, sclerotherapy treatment can also alleviate the symptoms associated with both spider and varicose veins, such as pain, aching, cramping, and swelling.
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure that requires no incisions or general anaesthesia. It is considered a safe and relatively painless treatment option for patients.
Most individuals can resume their normal activities immediately after the procedure. However, strenuous exercise and hot baths should be avoided for a few days following treatment. Typically, patients are advised to do moderate walking activities to help with recovery.
Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is generally suitable for individuals aged between the ages of 30 and 60 concerned with small to medium-sized varicose veins or spider veins. Whilst these veins can show at a younger age, this is the best age range for sclerotherapy treatment as recommended by practitioners. It is also best suited for patients who are in good or optimal health.
On the other hand, sclerotherapy may not be recommended for individuals who are pregnant, have a history of blood clots, or have certain underlying medical conditions. As with many other treatments like sclerotherapy, patient selection is crucial. Ensure that you conduct a full consultation to understand your clients’ concerns in depth.
What Are the Risks?
While sclerotherapy is considered a safe procedure, there are potential side effects and risks associated with it. These can include temporary bruising, redness, or swelling at the injection site. In rare cases, allergic reactions, blood clots, skin ulceration, or changes in skin colour may occur. It is crucial to discuss these risks with your patient before undergoing the procedure.
Sclerotherapy Aftercare Advice
Following sclerotherapy, it is recommended to wear compression stockings or bandages to apply pressure on the treated veins. Compression to the treated area promotes healing and reduces the risk of complications.
Moreover, walking and low-intensity, regular physical activity is encouraged, as they aid in blood circulation. Avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, as well as exposure to direct sunlight, can also support the healing process.
Sclerotherapy is a highly effective and widely used treatment option for varicose veins and spider veins. With its minimal invasiveness, quick recovery, and noticeable results, it has become a popular choice for individuals seeking to improve the appearance of their legs and alleviate associated symptoms.
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