The presence of varicose and spider veins in the lower body can be both an unsightly nuisance and an uncomfortable medical issue. Sclerotherapy is a procedure that targets venous insufficiency by injecting a chemical into the veins called sclerosant solution, closing them off and redirecting blood flow to healthier veins.
Venous insufficiency is a normal part of life for many people as they get older, but that does not mean you should have to live with embarrassing or problematic veins. At Advanced Vein & Vascular Center, we offer a variety of treatment methods to eliminate problem veins and treat venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency occurs when the valves responsible for preventing blood flow from moving backward fail, causing a build-up of blood in the lower half of the body. The veins are primarily responsible for directing oxygen-stripped blood back towards the heart after it has been distributed throughout the body. After blood passes through the lower body, the veins located in the legs have to push blood back up against the force of gravity. A system of valves in the veins creates a one-way channel that keeps blood flowing in one direction and prevents it from getting stuck in the legs.
Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins weaken and valves begin to fail, causing blood to get stuck and accumulate in the legs. Aging, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and regular prolonged periods of sitting or standing can lead to weakened veins and venous insufficiency, while genetic factors can also predispose some people to have weaker veins. The veins take advantage of natural muscle contractions in the legs to help move blood upwards, so limited movement coupled with weakened veins can impede proper blood circulation.
When venous insufficiency is present, the veins walls stretch apart, preventing the one-way valves from staying closed. Blood then remains stuck in veins located throughout the legs, unable to move upwards and back towards the heart.
The pooled blood creates visible bulging and twisting varicose veins that appear in the legs. These varicose veins may be dark in color and have the appearance of thick cords protruding out of the skin. Varicose veins can be an aesthetic embarrassment but may also lead to discomfort and other side effects that necessitate treatment.
Spider veins are clusters of small veins located close to the surface of the skin that have a spider web-like appearance. They are typically blue, red and purple in color and found in the legs or feet. Like varicose veins, spider veins can lead to a host of complications that extend beyond their unsightly appearance.
Many patients choose to undergo treatment for aesthetic reasons, but varicose and spider veins can also lead to a range of problematic symptoms when left untreated. Painful skin conditions, like skin ulcers, may develop as a result of untreated venous insufficiency that traps blood and fluids beneath the skin. Other potential complications include itchiness, skin discoloration, leg cramps or heaviness, aching and swelling.
While venous insufficiency does not always lead to complications and may remain only a cosmetic issue for some patients, it is better to be safe than sorry as this condition does not improve on its own without treatment. You should schedule treatment as soon as varicose or spider veins develop, or right away if you begin to notice any uncomfortable side effects from your varicose or spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is a popular and effective treatment that can target both varicose and spider veins. Using sclerosant solution, a chemical that irritates vein walls, the problem veins are directly eliminated. The sclerosant is administered using a series of injections with a very fine needle, causing the veins to shrink and collapse. After the veins have been shut off, the body safely redirects blood flow and harmlessly absorbs the treated veins. Sclerotherapy appointments typically take 30 minutes to one hour.
While some improvements may be noticeable after just one treatment, most patients need three to six treatment sessions for optimal results. Appointments can be scheduled one to two weeks apart. The amount of appointments necessary for each patient depends on the number, size and type of veins that require treatment.
Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure that most patients find to be comfortable and painless, even without anesthesia. Don’t let the thought of needles scare you! The ones used for sclerotherapy are so fine that in fact, most of our patients don’t even feel a thing during treatment. The procedure is completed entirely in-office. Patients are able to walk immediately after a sclerotherapy appointment, although they will need to rest with elevated feet for one to three hours. Compression will need to be applied to the treated area immediately following each appointment while the body works to redirect blood flow. Most patients return to work the very next day.
Side effects from sclerotherapy are minor and can include itching, bruising and mild pain at the injection sites. The skin may also display some discoloration for a few days to several months. Side effects typically diminish in one to two weeks, during which time exercise and more strenuous activities may also be resumed.
Results may be immediately visible, although they will take six to eight weeks to develop fully. The body will continue to absorb the treated veins for several months. Following your appointment, you will be required to walk periodically to facilitate blood circulation and wear compression garments that aid blood flow. All post-treatment instructions will be explained thoroughly to you in advance to ensure you have a proper understanding of the recovery process.
At Advanced Vein & Vascular Center, we give our patients a thorough examination prior to beginning sclerotherapy treatment to determine the exact nature of their venous insufficiency. We provide comprehensive vein treatment and want to ensure we treat the underlying issues of problem veins, not just the cosmetic symptoms. We believe it is in your best interest to target the underlying conditions responsible for causing varicose and spider veins in order to prevent them from coming back in the future and having to repeat treatment.
If you have unsightly or uncomfortable varicose and spider veins, then consider sclerotherapy treatments to treat your venous insufficiency. Don’t let the idea of needles scare you! Most patients find sclerotherapy to be a painless and effective method to treat their venous insufficiency. Call Advanced Vein & Vascular Center today at 610-687-5347 to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Carabasi, our vein care expert.