Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins
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Spider veins and Varicose veins are quite disconcerting for women and men as many feel they must alter the way they dress to hide them. Not only are they unsightly but, more generally, they portend the many changes of aging. People look at their legs and they just feel old.
Varicose Veins may appear as blue, protruding, tortuous vessels on the leg that may or may not be accompanied by cramping and muscle fatugue. Spider veins are more superficial and smaller and range in color from red to purple to blue. Studies show that approximately half of the entire adult population has some form of varicose or spider vein malady. The eradication of the problem is extremely satisfying to the patient. They look better. They can dress more freely and the procedure is usually painless and requires no downtime.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a procedure by which a tiny needle is injected just below the skin’s surface into the tiny spider vein. A substance is used to cause damage to the wall of the abnormal vessel, allowing the vessel to shrink up and be reabsorbed by the body. This treatment requires a trained, experienced physician who has done thousands of these procedures due to its high degree of difficulty and the possibility of untoward effects. When done correctly, however, the procedure can alleviate symptoms associated with spider veins, including aching, swelling and cramping.
Sclerotherapy is performed on small spider veins and on varicose veins that are less than a certain thickness. The presence of larger tortuous elevated varicose veins may indicate a deeper problem in the venous system and surgical evaluation and treatment is required.
Can sclerotherapy be used on the face?
Before the common use of lasers, sclerotherapy was often used on the face and quite effectively. A well trained physician was able to guide the needle exactly into the tiny vessel needing destruction. However, given the possibility of untoward effects, sclerotherapy has essentially been abandoned as a treatment for vessels on the face. It has been replaced by the current treatment of choice for facial vessels which is laser surgery. At the Kopelson Clinic, our powerful Nd:YAG laser, is used with ease, to precisely target each vessel and eradicate them without injuring the surface of the skin.
How exactly does sclerotherapy work?
Sclerotherapy is indicated for treatment of spider veins and some varicose veins mostly seen on the legs. At The Kopelson Clinic, the physicians will not inject varicose veins if they have reached a certain size as the treatment of choice then becomes surgery. Also, both spider and varicose veins may have feeder vessels below the surface where the eye cannot see. Some physicians use ultrasound in order to identify the source of the spider or varicosity and treat what can be treated safely. We, however, treat mostly spider veins that appear closer to the surface as tiny, sometimes matted, groups of vessels ranging in color from red to purple to blue.
Sclerotherapy is quite a simple procedure for the patient to undergo. It is literally almost pain-free. A tiny needle is injected just below the skin’s surface into the vessel to be treated. a sclerosant is injected. Often, if patient and doctor are lucky, this one vessel is enough to treat a large area due to the intricate connections that have developed beneath the skin, therefore accomplishing treatment in one stick. This is always our goal but it is unusual for all vessels to be connected; so often, more than one stick is necessary.
Is sclerotherapy a painful procedure?
Sclerotherapy is not a painful procedure. After the procedure is completed, hives may develop localized to the area of treatment. These will abate quickly and you will leave our office with a topical corticosteroid to decrease the inflammation. We will give you samples of a topical corticosteroid for use throughout the day. These usually disappear within a few hours of treatment.
How long does it take to see the results of this procedure?
Sclerotherapy is done once a month for three months. Three is an average. Some require less; some more.
What are some of the potential side effects of sclerotherapy?
Any procedure in which a needle is used, can can cause bruising, swelling and redness. Sclerotherapy, in general, may cause the vessels to become darker before they lighten up; hence, the need for daily sunscreen. Another untoward reaction is the appearance of a small erosion that may take a long time to heal. The resultant wound may be a slightly depressed and lighter than the surrounding skin. These side effects usually go away a few days to a few weeks after treatment and are usually not seen if the procedure is performed by an experienced physician who understands the anatomy. Very rarely, blood clots, allergic reactions and inflammation occur, sometimes requiring medical treatment.
How long does sclerotherapy typically last?
It is impossible to answer this question since we don’t exactly understand why spider veins and varicose veins form in the first place. There is definitely a connection between spider veins and sun exposure, pregnancy, and standing up for long periods at work. If these factors continue to influence the patient, then they will return sooner rather than later.
How long does it take to recover from sclerotherapy?
Because sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure, patients can return to their normal activities as soon as they leave the clinic. We ask that they not exercise that day so that their blood pressure remains constant over the day. Any encouragement for blood to flow through the treated vessels may cause the procedure to become less effective.
Sclerotherapy at Kopelson Clinic
The Kopelson Clinic offers Sclerotherapy as a treatment for spider veins as a treatment for varicose veins, but also may recommend cosmetic laser surgery as a spider vein treatment and also as a varicose vein treatment.