Sclerotherapy FAQs

1: What is Sclerotherapy?
2: How does sclerosant work exactly?
3: What are spider veins?
4: What are varicose veins?
5: Does Sclerotherapy cause any damage or side effects?
6: Does vein disease affect women and men equally?
7: Why isn’t surgery a good idea?
8: How will my blood circulate if I eliminate my varicose veins?
9: Is it OK to postpone treatment?
10: What about treating other parts of the body affected by veins?
11: Will I need to be hospitalized or take time off from work?



What is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a microinjection procedure. It requires no pain medication during or after the procedure. Abnormal veins are destroyed by injecting a solution called sclerosant, which irritates the vein wall. It is not simply injecting the sclerosant, but paying attention to the volume, concentration and “exposure time” that makes the difference between success and failure.

How does sclerosant work exactly?

The sclerosant Dr. Wright uses is an FDA approved medication, which causes injury to the inner vein wall. The injury occurs in a controlled manner, depending on the volume and concentration of the medication used in each site. The medication is inactivated by dilution and interacting with the vein wall, collapsing the vein, making the effect localized. The initial injury to the vein wall creates a healing process which causes the vein to completely heal closed over time. This leads to shrinkage of the vein, and eventually, and complete obliteration of the target vein.


What are spider veins?

Spider veins are smaller thread-like veins. They are often hormonally induced. Although the spider veins are not usually symptomatic, they are often accompanied by reticular veins or “feeder veins” found deeper in the skin which often cause symptoms.


What are Varicose veins?

The function of a vein is to channel blood back to the heart. Varicose veins are failed veins. This means that blood in the veins is either stagnant or flowing backwards. As blood accumulates in the veins pressure builds up leading to engorgement and distortion of the veins. Larger veins have valves which direct blood flow. As engorgement and distortion occurs the valves fail which can lead to progression of the disease process. Varicose veins appear as either bulging and rope-like or small and thread-like. They can result in aching, tired and swollen legs. They can cause a throbbing, burning or itching sensation. Varicose veins can cause muscle cramps and give a sense of restlessness in your legs. Varicose veins are a vascular disorder requiring treatment for medical reasons.

Does Sclerotherapy cause any damage or side effects?

As with all medical procedures, side effects and complications are possible. That is why it is important to seek treatment from an experienced physician. Allergic reactions are extremely rare and are mild when they do occur. Reactions are more likely to occur when treating larger varicose veins because the medication is more concentrated and used in higher volumes.

You may develop itching dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and a mild increase in pigmentation (staining of the skin). These are common cosmetic complications that usually last a few weeks to months. If you have any of the following conditions: overly sensitive skin, very dense spider veins, or if your skin is already damaged because your veins have deteriorated too much you are more likely develop these complications.


Does vein disease affect women and men equally?

Women account for approximately 85-90% of varicose vein cases, mainly because of the unique risk factors for females including estrogen levels and pregnancy. Women are particularly affected by with reticular veins. These light purple veins usually appear in a lattice framework, giving a marbled appearance to the legs. Reticular veins are the most harmless looking veins, but are usually the most symptomatic of all. Reticular veins are the cause of high rate of Restless Leg Syndrome found in women. When these veins are effectively treated, the discomfort and automatic movements diminish.

The pathophysiology is similar in men, however instead of reticular veins, they often have multiple, small branching varices; and “high pressured small vein disease” is more commonly found. The varices, unfortunately, are often mistaken for “just cosmetic” telangiectatic veins. The difference is important because the treatment is different.

Why isn’t surgery a good idea?

The documented failure rate for surgery is 30% to 80% in one to five years time. Removing a varicose vein surgically is not the same as a one-time removal of an appendix. Varicose veins are a chronic problem plagued by regrowth in many places in the leg. Repeated surgery is not an acceptable solution to the recurrent problem.

How will my blood circulate if I eliminate my varicose veins?

Varicose veins are a burden on your circulation. The blood inside the varicose veins starts refluxing (going backwards). Therefore, correcting the flow can only improve your circulation. By treating varicose veins, we eliminate only the bad veins and safeguard the good veins for normal circulation. We also preserve healthy veins for possible future medical needs, such as a bypass graft source.

Is it OK to postpone treatment?

As you probably already know, postponing any type of treatment can have its down side. Varicose vein disease is a progressive disease that, if left untreated, will only make things worse. When making a decision about your varicose veins, keep in mind that the sooner you get your veins treated, the easier they are to treat and control. It is estimated that 30 to 50 percent of vein disease will progress to venous insufficiency. This causes swelling of the legs or venous stasis dermatitis, which results in reddened, itchy, scaly legs that heal poorly. All of these are complications that can be avoided if the failed venous circulation if treated early.

What about treating other parts of the body affected by veins?

Problem veins are not only in legs, but also found in the hands and face. There are even successfully treated veins around patients’ eyes. Dark circles under the eyes are more common with age and in women. These patients have feeder veins coming down from the scalp that drain into the veins under their eyes. The blood collects and makes their eyes darker. We can see feeder veins at the upper temple regions. Treatment of these veins can markedly reduce or eliminate dark circles – with no adverse affect on your brain or the blood circulation to your prominent veins.

Will I need to be hospitalized or take time off from work?

Treatment is done on an outpatient basis during convenient office hours. You can resume most activities shortly after each session.

Before & After

©2005 Lakeview Medical Group