Sclerotherapy is a popular treatment for spider veins and varicose veins, accounting for more than 323,000 vein treatments in 2018. The procedure is simple, safe, effective, and you can relax while having it done in the comfort of our office at Vein Health Clinics — all reasons why it’s the preferred method for eliminating unsightly veins.
Let’s take a quick look at the cause of spider and varicose veins and how sclerotherapy alleviates your symptoms and makes the veins disappear for good.
The difference between spider veins and varicose veins
Spider veins and varicose veins are caused by the same problem, but there’s a big difference between the two. Spider veins arise from tiny capillaries close to the surface of your skin. While spider veins have a big impact your appearance, they seldom cause symptoms. In some cases, however, they can be the first sign of an underlying venous health concern.
Varicose veins are larger veins that develop in your legs. They’re extremely unattractive, as the veins become enlarged, twisted, and stick up above your skin. When they go untreated, varicose veins can cause complications such as superficial thrombophlebitis, inflammatory skin conditions, and venous stasis ulcers.
Varicose veins are also notorious for causing symptoms. They can be painful and make your legs feel achy. You may develop itchy skin, a burning sensation, muscle cramping, or leg swelling from varicose veins. But all of these symptoms go away after you’re treated with sclerotherapy.
How spider veins and varicose veins develop
Spider veins and varicose veins develop when one-way valves in the veins fail to function. These valves keep blood flowing in one direction — toward your heart — a task that’s especially difficult in your legs, where they work against gravity forcing blood to move up your legs.
When the valves become weak or damaged, blood flows backward and gets stuck in the vein between the bad valve and the next healthy valve. As a result, that segment of the vein becomes engorged with blood, causing varicose and spider veins.
As varicose veins develop in your legs, blood flow is obstructed, and some blood doesn’t make it back to your heart. That’s a condition called chronic venous insufficiency. Once venous insufficiency occurs, the problem continues to build.
The vein continues to collect blood, expanding the blood vessel and creating significant pressure in the vein or veins below the damaged valve. Before long, the healthy valve that was stopping blood from continuing down the vein becomes damaged by the stretching and pressure. This allows blood to go further down the vein until it reaches the next healthy valve, then it accumulates again, creating another segment in your varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy permanently eliminates spider and varicose veins
Sclerotherapy achieves exceptional results using an amazingly simple procedure. We only need to inject a sclerosing agent into the vein. A sclerosing agent is a type of medication that immediately closes the vein by damaging the vein wall.
After the vein collapses, two important things happen. First, your body restores normal blood flow by automatically rerouting the blood to a healthy vein. And second, the treated area turns into scar tissue. Over the next few weeks or months, your body naturally clears away the scar tissue, permanently eliminating your unsightly veins.
What to expect during sclerotherapy
During your sclerotherapy procedure, we clean the skin around the targeted area and inject the sclerosing medication using a fine needle. If your varicose veins are large or deep under your skin, we administer a local anesthetic and use ultrasound to see the vein and guide the needle.
You may feel slight cramping as the medication is injected, but you shouldn’t experience pain, especially not when you’re in our capable and skilled hands. You’ll be up and moving shortly after your sclerotherapy procedure. You’ll need to wear compression stockings and avoid strenuous activities for about two weeks. Otherwise, you can get back to your normal daily routine.