Sclerotherapy is a procedure used to reduce the appearance of spider veins. It involves injecting a sclerosing agent or detergent into a vein using a fine needle. The solution irritates the lining of the vein causing it to stick together. Over time, the vessel will turn into scar tissue and fade. The severity of your disease determines the number of treatments necessary to alleviate your symptoms or improve a cosmetic appearance; most situations require more than one treatment.
Sclerotherapy is performed on spider veins, reticular veins and in some cases done under ultrasound guidance to treat an ulcer.
Spider Veins are superficial veins located just under the skin. They are groups of tiny blood vessels that resemble spider webs or tree branches. Spider veins may appear red, purple or blue in color. Spider veins can be an indication of venous insufficiency. Diagnosis of spider veins may include a visual exam and ultrasound (duplex) of the veins. Treatment options are conservative treatment, sclerotherapy, dermal laser or a combination of treatments. Some insurance policies consider treatment for spider veins cosmetic.
A reticular vein is sometimes referred to as a feeder vein, they are the larger blue veins visible beneath the skin and may feed a cluster of smaller spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is sometimes used in conjunction with dermal laser. Each method has risks associated with it including a worsened cosmetic result. Risks associated with sclerotherapy are as follows:
- Allergic reaction to the solution used
- Bruising and staining/hyperpigmentation (discoloration of the skin around the injected vein)
- Superficial phlebitis
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Ulcerations and matting (fine blood vessels that develop around a treated area)
These risks as well as the benefits of sclerotherapy should be discussed with your physician as you decide to pursue treatment.
The benefit of wearing compression stockings as part of the treatment with sclerotherapy increases the effectiveness of the treatment and helps to reduce the risks associated with it. Compression helps to keep the vein reduced in size and the sclerosing agent in contact with the vein.