Sclerotherapy is a treatment for varicose veins, spider veins and some other blood vessel problems. In fact, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery calls sclerotherapy the “treatment of choice for spider leg veins” but the procedure works well on small varicose veins too.

Spider veins and varicose veins occur when disease causes veins to function poorly at their job of carrying blood from your extremities back to your heart. Gravity causes blood to pool in these diseased veins, especially in the veins in your lower calves and ankles. In time, this pooled blood causes the veins to bloat and swell. Bloated veins lying near the surface appear as tiny red, purple or blue spider veins. Bloating in deeper veins causes dark purple or blue, twisted and bulging varicose veins.  

Sclerotherapy reduces the appearance of bulging veins but the treatment can also improve symptoms related to spider veins and small varicose veins, such as aching, burning, swelling, and night cramps.

Sclerotherapy involves the use of a chemical agent that causes scarring and the eventual collapse of the diseased vein. Nearby tissue absorbs the collapsed vein material and the body reroutes blood flow to other healthier veins.

Gig Harbor Vascular Surgeons Detail the Sclerotherapy Procedure

Vein doctors usually perform sclerotherapy in a vein clinic. Vascular surgeons can usually perform the procedure, which does not require anesthesia, in 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of veins treated and the extent of vein disease.

During the procedure, the vascular surgeon will then use a needle to inject a chemical, known as a sclerosant, into the diseased vein. Some patients experience minor cramps or stinging sensation when the doctor inserts the needle used in this procedure.

The sclerosants, which can be liquid or foam, irritate the lining of the veins. This irritation causes the vein to swell shut and block the flow of blood. The vein eventually dissolves.

After removing the needle from each section of diseased vein, the doctor applies compression and massage techniques that prevent blood from entering the treated vein and rinsing away the sclerosant. During treatment involving several injections, the surgeon may tape a compression pad onto larger veins while the doctor treats the next vein. The number of injections varies, depending on the size and number of veins treated at each session.

After treatment, veins typically fade within a few weeks, optimal results are visible after months in some cases. Some patients require repeat treatments for best results, especially for larger varicose veins or extensive spider veins.

Sclerotherapy is a relative safe procedure associated with relatively few complications. Side effects at the injection sites may include bruising, raised red areas, small skin sores, and darkened skin in the shape of lines or dots. Most of these fade quickly to reveal smooth, beautiful skin.

If you suffer from spider veins or small varicose veins and wonder if sclerotherapy is right for you, make an appointment with Northwest Vein & Aesthetic Center. Our vein doctors are here to serve you.