What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy refers to the injection of undesirable veins with a chemical solution that causes the veins to scar over and close. At the Vein Institute of Pittsburgh℠, sclerotherapy treatment is generally done on spider veins and smaller vein tributaries located more superficially in the tissue, but will on occasion be performed on deeper or larger veins with the guidance of ultrasound.
How does visual sclerotherapy work?
The visible spider and reticular veins are injected, using a small needle, with a respective medically formulated sclerosing solution. After these veins are injected with the sclerosing agent (i.e.: polidocanol or sodium tetradecyl sulfate), triggering an inflammatory reaction within the vessel. Eventually, the vessel scars over and is broken down by the body and reabsorbed. Visual improvement of the spider vein cluster after injection often takes a few weeks.
Some veins, although small, require several treatments for a successful outcome. Every patient is different but typically, the improvement of spider veins will require multiple sessions performed several weeks apart.
How does ultrasound guided sclerotherapy work?
Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (USG sclerotherapy) is used when the larger spider veins or deeper vein tributaries cannot be easily visualized with the eye. The injector will apply a small amount of gel to the surface of the skin in the area of concern. A hand-held ultrasound transducer then glides over the area, and ultrasound waves bounce off of bone, the surrounding tissue and veins creating a detailed moving picture of the veins and their function. The ultrasound image is projected onto a screen for the physician or physician assistant to use as a guide as he or she injects the veins with a sclerosing solution. The use of ultrasound ensures the sclerosant goes where we want it to.
Are there any post-treatment restrictions with sclerotherapy?
After sclerotherapy patients are encouraged to wear prescription-grade compression hose for several days to a week, avoid the sun and UV light, and avoid strenuous exercise for several days. Detailed instructions and guidelines will be reviewed with each patient at the time of treatment.
Is sclerotherapy safe?
Most patients do not experience complications from sclerotherapy. However, some may develop skin color changes where the veins were injected including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Bruising and soreness of the injection site is also possible. Rarely, a patient may develop an allergy to the sclerosing agent. Serious complications such as deep vein blood clots and unintentional arterial injection occur very rarely.
Potential adverse events and complications are reviewed with each patient and are detailed in our written consent forms.
Benefits of Sclerotherapy:
- Minimally invasive
- No downtime
- Virtually painless
- Can provide aesthetic and medical benefits
If you or anyone you know exhibits signs of varicose veins or complains of symptoms in their legs consistent with chronic venous insufficiency (i.e.: aching, pain, swelling, or heaviness in the legs), call 724-934-8346 to schedule an evaluation with Terrance R. Krysinski, MD or one of his providers at the Vein Institute of Pittsburgh℠.