Most patients who experience spider veins do not develop serious medical problems from these tiny red or blue vessels near the surface of the skin. However, for many, they represent a real roadblock to self-confidence. For these patients, sclerotherapy is often the spider vein treatment of choice because of its many benefits.
How a Vein Doctor Uses Sclerotherapy
Spider veins appear most often on the legs, ankles, or feet and occasionally on the face, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. They usually develop closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins do and are typically much smaller.
Vein clinics treat spider veins on an outpatient basis. While conservative measures such as elevating the legs, losing weight, or wearing compression stockings might help prevent new spider veins, they cannot eliminate existing vessels. A vein doctor who specializes in treating vein disease is usually a vascular surgeon. This physician uses sclerotherapy to eliminate targeted spider veins by injecting a substance called a sclerosant into each vessel.
The Office on Women’s Health explains that the sclerosant irritates the vessel’s walls, causing them to stick to each other and eventually close. In time, the body absorbs the treated vein. A vascular surgeon sometimes uses ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy to direct the needle while injecting the sclerosant.
Benefits of Sclerotherapy
Many healthcare providers refer to sclerotherapy as the gold standard of treatment for spider veins. Patients enjoy these six benefits while getting rid of these abnormal veins, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment. It requires no hospitalization or general anesthesia.
- It is a safe procedure with few risks. Side effects, if any, usually disappear within just a few days or a few weeks. Less-common complications include inflammation, a blood clot, air bubbles, or an allergic reaction to the sclerosant.
- Preparation for the procedure is simple. Patients avoid applying any lotion to or shaving their legs for 24 hours before the appointment. They wear loose clothing such as a pair of shorts to the vein clinic.
- Individuals report little pain or discomfort during the procedure, which usually lasts less than an hour.
- Most patients return to their normal daily routines, absent any strenuous activities, the same day as their sclerotherapy session.
- Sclerotherapy has a success rate as high as 80 percent for getting rid of treated vessels.
A vein doctor might need to schedule more than one treatment session for a patient, depending on the size and the location of the veins to be destroyed. It is important to note that no treatment for spider veins will prevent new vessels from forming due to underlying vein disease. For this reason, patients who have undergone sclerotherapy might expect to see new spider veins occasionally and often opt to return for periodic treatments.