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The appearance of varicose veins is one of the most common and unsightly problems to be afflicted with. These veins are purple or dark blue in colour, can be raised and appear prominent. Usually found on the lower leg, these veins, along with spider veins, don’t pose any medical problems, but a lot of people prefer to have them removed for aesthetic reasons.
There are various methods of achieving this, depending on the severity of the problem, but one of the most popular methods is sclerotherapy. This non-invasive treatment involves an injection of salt solution directly into the vein. It’s effective, swift, almost painless and if successful it is guaranteed to improve the appearance of the leg, leaving you less to be self-conscious about.
As a starting point you will have a consultation with our surgeon to discuss the treatment and what it entails. Sclerotherapy involves a very fine needle being passed into the affected vein and a salt solution injected through it. This salt irritates the lining of the blood vessels, which mean that they swell, stick together then begin to shrink and dissolve. These veins are then absorbed naturally by the body.
Sclerotherapy is not suitable for larger varicose veins, doctors prefer to us this method for smaller veins and especially prominent spider veins. This is an easy treatment to have because it’s non-invasive, does not require a rest period, has good success rates and as an extra advantage sclerosising also removes ‘feeder veins’ which means that the re-appearance of spider veins in that area is much less likely.
The number of injections given depends on the size of the area, the location and the general medical condition of the patient. It’s usual to have at least two sclerosising sessions. At each session 50-80% of injected veins are eliminated and the failure rate is less than 10%, making it overall a very reliable treatment. It’s not a painful therapy, but you may experience some mild discomfort and cramps for 1-2 minutes, especially in larger veins. The actual procedure takes around 15-30 minutes.
Before & After Images
Can anyone have this treatment done?
Yes, by and large. However, there will be some people who are not suitable candidates for sclerotherapy. Patients who are not likely to be approved for this treatment include:
- Pregnant women
- Those who have suffered from blood clots. Because the treatment involves a coagulating factor, patients who have had blood clots in the past are more carefully assessed than others. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.
What other factors go into making a decision?
The possibility of future heart bypasses is also taken into account. Veins which are likely to be used during that procedure will be avoided, unless they have already been discarded.
Should I take any precautions before the treatment?
Yes. Certain medications which promote bleeding should be avoided for 48-72 hours before your treatment. These include aspirin and ibuprofen. However you should consult your individual doctor for a complete list.
Do I need to rest afterwards?
No. You will be fine to drive yourself home and generally to go about your normal life. Gentle exercise is encouraged. However some things should be avoided. These include:
- Hot baths
- Hot compresses on the treated area
- Direct exposure to sunlight
- Hot showers
You will probably be advised to wear support hosiery to help your recovery.
Are there any risks?
Sclerotherapy is a low-risk procedure, however, as with all treatments, there are some possible side effects, such as an allergic reaction to the injections at the time and:
- Itching and raised red marks at the site
More rare side effects include:
- A lumpy/hard appearance for larger veins
- Brown lines or spots at the site. These may disappear within 3-6 months.
Very rarely there are some side effects which require urgent medical attention. These include:
- A sudden onset of a swollen leg
- Inflammation within 5 inches of the groin area
- The formation of small ulcers at the injection site