Prior to the procedure, you will have an initial consultation with our spider vein specialist Jaimi Norden (RN, BSN) to determine if you are an eligible candidate for sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy, or injection therapy, is a minimally-invasive, vein therapy method for addressing spider and some larger veins. It is frequently done with the use of a vein-light or ultrasound-guidance. The vein is injected with a diluted “sclerosant” medicine, most frequently Sodium Tetradecyl Sulfate (STDS). The lining of the vein is irritated causing it to swell and stick together. The blood clots and the vessel becomes a scar that fades from view over time. This type of clot is not dangerous and does not migrate into the larger veins of the body. This technology has been in use since the early 1900’s.
Contraindications for sclerotherapy include pregnancy, breast feeding or severe immobility. Veins that are potentially usable for future surgical bypass procedures (i.e. use of the saphenous vein, a large vein in the leg used for coronary artery bypass graft surgery) will generally not be considered for sclerotherapy spider vein treatment, unless they are already deemed unusable.
How Sclerotherapy Is Done:
In most cases, the “sclerosant” solution is injected through a very fine needle directly into the vein. This is usually done with the use of a special vein light or with ultrasound guidance. 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. It is an office based procedure. Post procedure restrictions are few. We ask that you avoid any strenuous or aerobic activity for a few days after the procedure. It is also recommended to compress the areas with a stocking or ACE bandage.
Studies have shown that as many as 50%-80% of injected veins may be eliminated with each session of sclerotherapy. Less than 10% of the people who have sclerotherapy do not respond to the injections at all. In these instances, different solutions can be tried. Although this procedure works for most patients, there are no guarantees for success.
In general, spider veins respond in three to six weeks, and larger veins respond in three to four months. If the veins respond to the treatment, they will not reappear. However, new veins may appear at the same rate as before. If needed, you may return for injections.