Sclerotherapy is for superficial leg veins which are dilated, small surface vessels, also called spider veins, telangiectasias, star burst blemishes. They are either pink, red or purple and can occur on ankles, lower legs or thighs as lines or clusters.
The cause is unknown but these vessels are more common in females. A familial predisposition, pregnancy, hormones, obesity, trauma, long periods of standing and sitting have been implicated. Hereditary tendency is probably one of the most significant factors.
Sclerotherapy is the injection of a chemical agent into the cavity of a blood vessel. These agents cause inflammation of the blood vessel walls resulting in the occlusion of the blood vessels.
Exercise, weight loss and support stockings may help limit the number of new vessels, but will not prevent a predisposed female from developing any at all.
A very fine needle is used during the injection. You may experience a mild pin prick sensation which feels like a small mosquito bite. 15-30 seconds of mild discomfort or burning at the site of injection may be experienced. Some patients will experience a local muscle cramp, lasting a few minutes. The injected veins completely disappear for a few seconds as blood is pushed out by the solution, but when blood flow returns they reappear. Since many of the vessels interconnect, one injection may eradicate several dozen vessels at one time.
Do not take aspirin for a one week prior to treatment. Be sure to eat before treatment to avoid becoming lightheaded during the procedure.
The vessels will either lighten or completely disappear. The fading occurs over the first month, but may take as long as two to three months for some vessels. The treatment does not prevent new vessels from appearing. It only treats vessels that have been injected.
Are there certain vessels which tend to recur more commonly? Yes, the type of vessels which occur in a mat of very fine radiating vessels.
The same area should not be injected for six to eight weeks to allow for complete healing. Different areas may be treated sooner.
This varies with the number of areas that have to be injected as well as the response to each injection. It usually takes one to three injections to obliterate any vessels and 10-20 vessels may be treated in any one session.
Pressure bandages will be placed on the treated areas and should remain until the following morning. Contact sports and strenuous activities should be avoided for the first 48 hours.
There are no serious effects with the procedure, however, temporary side effects may occur.
Bruising and Swelling: Local swelling and bruising may occur at the site of needle penetration and along the vessel. Swelling resolves within 24 hours, bruising fades slowly within several weeks.
Tenderness: Tenderness may occur at the injection site and along the vessel, and persist for one to two weeks.
Urticaria and itching: Immediately following injection, a hive-like reaction with itching may develop at the site, usually subsiding within 30 minutes.
Ulceration: A small ulcer may develop at the injection site which will crust and heal in one to two weeks.
Pigmentation Changes: Spider veins often rupture during the treatment process leaving linear brown streaks or small brown spots which clear within six months.
Cramping: Following injection of the ankle, cramping may occur. Moving the toes and massage will alleviate the discomfort.
Telangiectatic Mats: A network of very small veins may develop near the injection site during the course of treatment and will clear spontaneously or after repeated treatment.