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What Is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a 15-minute treatment for both varicose veins and spider veins; it is the most commonly used treatment for the vein disorders. During sclerotherapy, the doctor injects a chemical solution into the veins through a fine needle. This chemical solution makes the vein walls irritated, shrink, and close off.

After the vein closes off, it will turn to scar tissue and gradually disappear as it is absorbed by the body; it can take the body several weeks to several months to completely absorb the vein. As the closed-off vein/diseased vein stops carrying blood, which is why it becomes less visible.

Sclerotherapy is extremely effective on small surface veins 1 to 2 mm in diameter or less. It has been a trusted procedure since the 1930s. For patients with many varicose or spider veins, more than one sclerotherapy session may be required. The average person goes through 2 to 5 treatments before the veins disappear. Some patients, especially those who are genetically predisposed to developing these venous diseases, may need future treatments if more varicose or spider veins appear. Many patients make appointments yearly for treatment.

Patients do not experience any pain during this treatment. Although following the procedure, patients may experience some minor itching and burning near the treated area for about 10 to 15 minutes. Patients will walk out of the office pain-free. Patients may see some minor skin discoloration around the treatment area, but it will fade in about 6 to 12 weeks.

For the most part, sclerotherapy is a risk-free treatment, but some rare risks can occur, including: blood clots, allergic reaction to the solution (most people are not allergic to the solution), severe inflammation, and skin injuries.

Patients can resume normal, daily activities the same day. Patients are asked to avoid direct sunlight and/or tanning beds for at least 2 weeks after the treatment.

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