Physicians agree that when it’s time to get rid of unwanted vessels, sclerotherapy is the gold standard of spider vein treatment. Understanding more about this procedure and the preparation necessary helps reduce the amount of stress patients undergo at their appointments and while recovering.
Overview of Spider Veins and Sclerotherapy
Vein doctors consider this spider vein treatment a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that typically takes less than an hour. Sclerotherapy use dates to the 1930s. The most common site for targeted veins is the legs. The procedure is very effective for both spider and small varicose veins.
Using a fine needle, the physician injects a special solvent called a sclerosing agent into each vein that requires treatment. This solvent causes walls of the vessel to scar and stick together, forcing blood flow to healthier vessels nearby. Eventually, the treated vessel collapses, and the body absorbs it.
The Mayo Clinic reports that while a vein typically fades in a few weeks, this could take a month or longer. Most patients report little discomfort. Eliminating all the vessels necessary to satisfy the individual could require more than one sclerotherapy session.
Getting Ready for the Procedure
Elimination of spider veins begins with a consultation with a vein doctor. The initial appointment includes a physical exam as well as a review of the individual’s medical history.
The exam includes an evaluation of problem veins and assessing whether the patient has an underlying blood vessel disease. The specialist will want to know about any current health problems, previous vascular treatment, recent illnesses, a history of blood clots, and any allergies.
Patients need to advise the physician of any medications or supplements they use and might have to stop them for a prescribed period. In some cases, the doctor will order additional tests such as an ultrasound exam.
After evaluating all this information, the vein doctor will advise the patient whether he or she is an acceptable sclerotherapy candidate. Sanford Health Care notes that individuals with the following circumstances are not a good match:
- Current pregnancy
- Previous radical mastectomy
- Prior vascular inflammation, leg blood clots, leg ulcers, diabetes, issues with arteries, or other vascular problems
- Presence of a dialysis shunt
- Significant prior trauma to the arms, hands, or chest
Preparation for sclerotherapy is straightforward and simple. The Mayo Clinic advises against applying any lotion to the legs or shaving them for 24 hours beforehand. Loose clothing such as a pair of shorts and comfortable shoes worn to the appointment make it easier to get up and walk after the procedure. They also make the entire experience more relaxed and comfortable.
It’s important that patients purchase and bring with them any compression stockings ordered by the vein doctor. These prescription stockings are available at pharmacies. Some are also sold online.