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Sclerotherapy for Varicose and Spider Veins

Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to eliminate varicose veins and spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves an injection of a solution (generally a salt solution) directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to swell and stick together, and the blood to clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.

Prior to sclerotherapy, initial consultation with a dermatologist or vascular medicine specialist will be required to decide if a patient is good candidate for the procedure.

You can have sclerotherapy if you take birth control pills, however you are not eligible if you are pregnant. Also if you have had a blood clot in the past, your eligibility will reduce, and will depend on the overall health of the area needing treatment as well as the reason for the clot.

How Sclerotherapy Is Performed?

In most cases of sclerotherapy, the salt solution is injected through a very fine needle directly into the vein. At this point, you may experience mild discomfort and cramping for one to two minutes, especially when larger veins are injected. The procedure itself takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes.

The number of veins injected in one session varies, and depends on the size and location of the veins, as well as the general medical condition of the patient.

Sclerotherapy is performed in the doctor's office by a dermatologist or a surgeon and requires that you do not do any aerobic activity for a few days after the procedure.

What can be to done before Sclerotherapy?

You should avoid certain medications prior to sclerotherapy. Talk to your doctor about all medicines which includes over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements you are taking. If needed, take an antibiotic before sclerotherapy. Do not apply any lotion to the legs before the procedure.

Some doctors recommend avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen such as Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin or other anti-inflammatory drugs for 48-72 hours before sclerotherapy.

Side Effects of Sclerotherapy

You may experience certain side effects after sclerotherapy, such as itching or raised red areas at the injection site which can last for one to two days after the procedure. Also, these should disappear within a few days. Bruising may also occur which can last several days or weeks.

Larger veins that have been injected may become lumpy and hard and may require several months to dissolve and fade. Brown lines or spots may appear at the vein site. In most cases, they disappear within three to six months. Neovascularization -- the development of new, tiny blood vessels -- may occur at the site of sclerotherapy treatment. These tiny veins can appear days or weeks after the procedure, but should fade within three to twelve months without further treatment.

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