If you’ve been suffering from the unwanted appearance or painful symptoms of varicose or spider veins, sclerotherapy can be an extremely effective treatment. Safe and minimally invasive, this treatment can be performed here in our office at Beautique Medical Anti-Aging in Knoxville, TN and typically takes less than an hour to be completed. If you’re not yet familiar with this form of therapy, here’s a quick overview and what you can expect during treatment.
What Is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a form of treatment that can help patients suffering from painful or unhealthy veins. Both the appearance and symptoms of varicose and spider veins can be reduced or eliminated with this treatment. Normal, healthy veins, or blood vessels, can often become troublesome and more visible when blood begins to pool inside of them. Within all blood vessels, there’s a thin lining called the endothelium.
During sclerotherapy treatment, a solution that targets this lining is injected into your veins, which causes the lining to expand and scar. Once this occurs, the vein typically closes, and blood is then rerouted through other nearby veins. This normally results in improvements in how the treated vein looks and feels.
What Happens During Sclerotherapy?
Each treatment session normally takes between 15 and 45 minutes, but this can vary based on many factors, such as the size of the veins, their location on the body, and how many veins require treatment.
Before therapy can begin, an initial consultation is necessary to ensure that this treatment will be beneficial for your condition. The consultation will normally involve a discussion about your veins and an examination of the area you’d like treated. We will also provide you with all of the options you have available for treatment, and we will ask you some questions about your health history and current lifestyle.
All of this allows us to determine what type of treatment you might need and how you might respond to it. The following are some typical things you might be asked about:
- Current medication or supplement use
- Previous and current medical conditions
- Prior surgeries near the area to be treated
- Your treatment goals and expectations
2. The Solution Is Administered
To pinpoint the precise area where the solution should be injected, we will normally mark the area with a marker after identifying it. You will then be asked to lie down in a way that’s comfortable for you and allows us to easily inject the solution into the targeted area. The area will then be prepared and sanitized using an alcohol swab.
Before the injection, you may feel a tiny poke from the needle tip, which is just to ensure that the correct location is being treated. The sclerosing solution is then injected into the target veins, which may cause some discomfort for a few minutes. If more than one vein is to be treated, this can normally be completed in a single session, though we may sometimes need to perform this later, depending on multiple factors.
3. Follow-Up Appointment
After the treatment, you’ll be given some instructions for taking care of the area while at home. A follow-up appointment is then typically scheduled, at which point we can assess the treated area to determine how well each blood vessel responded to the treatment and whether any additional treatments are needed.
What Are the Veins Treated With?
The solution we inject is called a sclerosing agent and it can be either a liquid or foam. The following sclerosing agents are the most commonly used for this type of therapy:
- Hypertonic saline
- Sodium tetradecyl sulfate
Although all of these agents can lead to similar results, the way they work within veins is slightly different. During your initial consultation, we can determine which agent will be most appropriate depending on the size of the veins and the location.
When Will Results Be Seen?
It may take many months for results to be seen after an injection, though most patients can expect to see improvements within a few weeks. If your veins have been causing pain or itching, these symptoms may be the first that subside, while improvements in appearance often occur later. It takes time for the veins to collapse after treatment, at which point they would be naturally absorbed in the body and should not be noticeable anymore.
Although many patients only require one injection, multiple treatments may be needed for others, especially if the veins are larger. We must typically wait at least six weeks until we can repeat the treatment in the same area, though this may vary from person to person depending on how the body responds to the first treatment.
Before and Aftercare
Both before and after treatment, there are some things you will need to do or avoid to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. The following are some of the recommended actions you should take before and after sclerotherapy, though we may provide additional recommendations during the consultation.
Avoid Certain Medications
Some medications may cause adverse effects if you take them before or after the treatment. Some antibiotics are contraindicated in this scenario, so you should ask your healthcare provider if it’s possible to stop this treatment in the seven to ten days before and after treatment and how to do so safely.
Because aspirin and certain NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, may affect treatment, you should not take these or other anti-inflammatory medications before being treated. Some steroids, such as prednisone, can affect the effectiveness of the sclerosing agent, so you’ll need to speak to your provider to see if this can be stopped at least two days before the day of treatment.
Don’t Shave or Use Skin Products
You should ensure that you don’t shave the area before treatment, and do not wear any skin products, such as moisturizers, lotion, or sunscreen. Sclerotherapy is generally a very safe form of treatment and we thoroughly sanitize the area beforehand, but shaving or using skin products may increase the risk of infection.
Use Light Compression
To promote healing, the treated area should normally be compressed with a bandage or a type of tightfitting sleeve known as a compression hose, and in some cases, this may require additional compression materials, such as cotton balls or gauze pads. How long you should wear this depends on different factors, but a period of three to five days is the minimum duration in most cases.
Continue Normal Activities
While you should avoid strenuous activity or lifting heavy objects initially, you should still remain mobile and active with normal activities after treatment. This helps to ensure that circulation to the injected sites is robust and normal, which can give you the best results and allow you to heal more quickly.
What are the Benefits?
This treatment can improve or eliminate the following symptoms of both spider and varicose veins:
- Appearance – After blood vessels are treated, they will typically begin to fade within a few weeks or months and should not be noticeable at all after they are absorbed within the body.
- Pain – Painful veins can sting or ache, but this treatment can reduce or completely resolve this symptom in many cases, and these improvements may be noticed rather quickly.
- Itching – Abnormal veins are known for sometimes causing itching, and similar to pain, this treatment can reduce or abolish itching in many cases.
How Safe is Sclerotherapy:
While this therapy is non-invasive, and therefore very safe compared to many other forms of treatment, it is typically not appropriate if any of the following apply:
- You have current blood clots (deep or superficial vein thrombosis)You’ve experienced blood clots in the past in the area to be treated
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
- You’re taking contraindicated medications
During your initial consultation, we can discuss any of your previous or current health conditions and any medications you’re taking to determine if sclerotherapy is right for you.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Sclerotherapy is a tried and true approach to resolving both the cosmetic and physical symptoms of spider and varicose veins. To see if this treatment is right for you, contact us today at Beautique Medical Anti-Aging in Knoxville, TN to schedule your initial consultation, and our friendly staff will be here to assess your needs while answering any questions you might have.