What to Expect from Sclerotherapy as a Spider Vein Treatment

For most patients, spider veins are a cosmetic issue.  These small red, blue, or purple vessels are annoying and can steal an individual’s self-confidence.  In recent years, sclerotherapy ranks as the foremost spider vein treatment, particularly when treating blood vessels in the leg.

Issues With Spider Veins

These flat vessels are abnormal but typically cause no serious health problems.  They most often appear on a patient’s legs or face.  They are significantly smaller than varicose veins, which have a raised, ropelike appearance and can cause medical complications.

Some doctors believe that a spider vein is a type of varicose vein.  Other physicians consider them a separate condition.  The UCLA School of Medicine indicates that the official name for these vessels, which resemble a spider’s web, is telangiectasias.  They also tend to appear closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins do.

Common causes include:

  • A family history
  • Gaining weight
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication that result in shifts in hormones
  • Standing or sitting for long periods

Doctors treat spider veins on an outpatient basis.

How Physicians Use Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a process of injecting a spider vein or a small varicose vein with a special solution or foam called a sclerosing agent or sclerosant.  It is a non-invasive procedure with few complications.  A physician injects the agent into each targeted vessel using a very fine needle, the University of Michigan Vein Centers reports.  In recent years, use of ultrasound to guide a physician during the procedure has become common.

Once the sclerosant reaches the vein, it irritates the walls, causing the vessel to seal shut and eventually resorb.  Healthier veins nearby resume the work of the destroyed vessel.  The treated vein disappears over time.

What to Expect

The path to eliminating a spider vein problem begins with a consultation with a specialist.  At the initial appointment, the physician determines whether a patient is an acceptable sclerotherapy candidate and provides detailed instructions to those who qualify.

Most patients report only cramping or minor stinging during the procedure, according to the Mayo Clinic.  The number of sessions required depends on how many veins need treatment and where they are located.

After a sclerotherapy procedure, patients remain on their backs while resting.  Discharge orders specify how long they are required to wear compression stockings.

Although it is necessary for another adult to drive the patient home, most individuals get back to their normal routines the same day as the procedure, absent any strenuous activity.  Physicians encourage walking because it helps prevent the formation of blood clots.  Sun exposure to treated areas can result in the formation of dark spots on the skin.

No treatment can prevent the development of new veins.  For this reason, some individuals come back from time to time for additional sclerotherapy sessions.

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