Injection Therapy for Spider and Varicose Veins
This site page is for information only at this time. Sclerotherapy will be added to our practice at a later date.
Sclerotherapy involves simple injections of a solution into spider veins and smaller varicose veins. A special "sclerosing" solution is injected into the vein at specific locations that eventually cause the vein to shut down, shrink and be absorbed by the body. The occurrence level of broken or dilated veins is higher in women.
The difference between a Spider Vein and a Varicose Vein
Spider veins are the thin reddish or purple "surface" veins that are more common than varicose veins. Spider veins on the face and the smaller more diffuse spider veins in the thigh, behind the knee and on the ankles are easily treated by laser or light systems. Larger spider veins will require injection therapy for adequate improvement.
Varicose veins are larger swollen veins that are slightly deeper in the skin, blue in color and can sometimes bulge or look like knots or ropes. Varicose veins are found in the legs. Sclerotherapy is a proven simple procedure that will improve a vast majority of varicose veins.
Severe varicose veins are not treatable with injections and must be surgically removed by a vascular surgeon or treated by EVLT which is accomplished by threading a laser into the vein. During the procedure, the laser is fired along and inside the varicose vein. If your varicose veins are not treatable by normal sclerotherapy, you may require treatment by an experienced surgeon.
What causes spider and varicose veins?
Spider veins are more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one. They often occur as an inherited tendency. Long periods of standing or sitting, trauma to the leg from blows or falls, pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy are all factors that can be involved.
In normal veins, the one-way valve that controls blood flow prevents the "pooling" of blood. In a varicose vein, this valve does not work properly, allowing backflow of blood and the characteristic enlargement and discoloration.
Exercise and normal weight maintenance may help prevent the formation of both types of vein disorders.
High sodium diets may make your veins more prominent from the increased fluid retention such a diet will cause.
- Diagram source - Society for Vascular Surgery
How Sclerotherapy Works
A solution is injected into the vein with a very fine needle. This causes inflammation, coagulaton and collapse of the vein. Once the vein has collapsed, no blood can re-enter and the remaining vein wall is absorbed by the body's natural responses. Laser treatments with the pulsed light or lasers such as LuxG or Palomar 1064 are often also used on veins with a diameter of less than 4mm. Lasers destroy the veins through absorbed heat caused by the laser beam.
- Photo source University of Connecticut
Sclerotherapy sessions requires 15 to 30 minutes depending on the number of areas being treated. You may experience mild temporary cramping during the injection as the solution enters the vessel. This sensation resolves within minutes. Injection sites are covered with gauze and tape, and the legs are usually wrapped with an elastic wrap. The treated vessels gradually disappear after repeat treatments over the following months.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure with few significant risks. The most common temporary side effect is the development of brownish pigment in the treated area, similar to a freckle, which usually disappears over time. If the treated veins are unusually weak, there may be some temporary bruising around the injection site. You may also develop a tiny scab at the injection site. The scab is treated with an antibiotic ointment until it clears. There is little risk of infection or bleeding from Sclerotherapy.
Will I need more than one treatment?
Some smaller spider veins may require no more than a single treatment but most veins require several injections. It will depend on the severity of the condition and the extent of improvement desired. Most patients can expect a 50 to 90 percent improvement of spider veins after several treatments.
Larger veins may require a series of injections. To guarantee success and counteract the appearance of new spider veins, touch-up treatments may be required every year or so as new veins may appear.
- Photo source - Mayo Foundation
Typical Veins treatable by Sclerotherapy
What happens after the procedure?
After the procedure, you will return home wearing a pressure dressing and/or pressure hosiery to prevent post-injection bleeding, as well as to promote healing. After each treatment, you will notice further improvement of your appearance. A healing interval (usually about four weeks) must pass before you have another series of injections in the same site.
Most patients require more than one treatment to obtain the desired results. Although it is often not possible to completely eradicate all the visible veins, the improvement can be quite dramatic.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
American Academy of Dermatology
Related Treatments and Conditions
IPL for facial spider veins and pigment
Vascular lasers for varicose and spider veins
Rosacea facial redness
During your office consultation you will be provided with a detailed plan of the treatments that will benefit you most. Initial Cosmetic Consultations are Complimentary.
Please contact us by phone or email with any questions you may have or request an appointment online for your complimentary consultation.