Sclerotherapy is not a new procedure for treating spider veins and small varicose veins. First used in the 1930s, sclerotherapy is still the most effective method for removing these small squiggly blue, purple, and dark red veins that mar the appearance of our legs as we age.
What causes Spider Veins to form?
Veins are the highways that return de-oxygenated blood to the heart. In the legs, veins have to push uphill fighting gravity the entire way. Our muscles and tissues act to help push the blood through the veins, but as we age these tissues lose some of their strength, plus the vein walls become weaker. This combination allows the blood to sometimes backup and pool. This pushes the vein wall outward, making the vein visible through the outer skin. This is how spider veins and varicose veins form.
Other factors that can affect the formation of these veins are heredity, hormonal changes such as those during pregnancy, weight fluctuations, and occupations that require long periods of standing or sitting.
How is Sclerotherapy done?
A tiny needle is used to inject a special sclerosing agent directly into the unwanted vein. This solution irritates the vein wall, coagulating the blood in the vein, causing the wall to collapse and the vein to close off. We primarily use Polidocanol to treat these veins but will use Sotradecol if there is a reason not to use the Polidocanol.
How soon will results show?
Immediately after treatment, the vein visibly diminishes. The color will change from a dark blue or purple to light red, and the vein will resemble a slight cat scratch. Over the next 4-6 weeks, the body will absorb the closed-off vein and it will disappear.
What are the medical conditions that Sclerotherapy treats?
Sclerotherapy can be used to treat:
- Spider veins
- Varicose veins
- Deeper veins that cause swelling, aching, throbbing, itching or other symptoms
Sclerotherapy Side Effects
Some possible side effects of sclerotherapy include:
- discoloration of the skin, caused by blood either remaining in the treated vein or from seeping out of the vein into the surrounding tissue
- local discomfort
- allergic reaction
- appearance of tiny blood vessels after treatment
- extremely rare cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and small ulcers of the skin
What does the procedure feel like when it is being performed?
During the procedure, many people do not feel any discomfort. However, some patients may feel a slight stinging or burning sensation when the needle is inserted into the vein.
Is Sclerotherapy covered by insurance?
Sclerotherapy may be covered by your insurance if the veins are causing signs of venous disease or symptoms. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of sclerotherapy if the sclerotherapy is being performed for cosmetic reasons. Our insurance coordinator will work closely with your insurance company to maximize your benefits and obtain any prior authorizations.
How much does a consultation and the treatment cost?
Consultations for venous disorders are covered by insurance companies. In the event that insurance is not available, sclerotherapy sessions begin at $100. Please note: the pricing for the procedure is dependent upon the number of veins and the amount of chemical that needs to be injected.
Who Performs The Procedure?
Your procedure will be performed by your vascular surgeon or a nurse certified to perform the procedure.
What is used for the Sclerotherapy?
For the sclerotherapy procedure, our chemical preference is either polidocanol or sodium tetradecyl.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sclerotherapy sessions needed to eliminate veins varies for each patient depending on the number and length of the veins that require treatment. Veins typically respond after one sclerotherapy treatment, but it may take more than one session to achieve the desired results. It may take up to six weeks for veins to fully disappear.
Where will the procedure be performed?
The procedure will be performed in your vascular surgeon’s office.
If I need the procedure, how long will I have to wait for it to be performed?
If the sclerotherapy procedure is covered by insurance, approval can take from one day to two weeks to obtain. If sclerotherapy is not covered by insurance, it can be performed as early as the next day, if there is an open appointment.
What should I do after I have had the Sclerotherapy treatment?
After the procedure, light walking is encouraged. You should avoid running or heavy lifting immediately and for one week after following the treatment. You will be required to wear a form of compression on the treated area for three days following the treatment. You must avoid hot baths, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and direct sunlight for one week after the procedure.