What are Refluxing or Incompetent Veins ?
Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps that prevent blood from flowing backwards as blood is returned to the heart. Venous reflux or incompetence is a diseased or abnormal valve that is no longer able to close when subjected to pressure. This failure to close prevents the valve from stopping the backward flow of blood. In response to gravity, blood pours backward, overloading the vein with volume and pressure which leads to the development of varicose veins.
Some vein conditions may require further diagnostic testing such as vascular ultrasound and may require to be treated with Sclerotherapy or surgical intervention.
Types of Veins :
- Reticular veins or “feeder veins” :
These are superficial collecting veins that are blue or purple. These are 1 – 3. mm in diameter. Reticular veins can be treated by sclerotherapy or laser.
- Telangectasias or spider veins :
These are superficial, small veins; pink to purple in color. These are usually up to <1 mm in diameter. Telangectasias or spider veins can be treated by sclerotherapy or laser.
- Varicose veins :
These are bulging and twisting veins of the lower extremity caused by increased venous pressure as a result of venous incompetence. Bulging varicose veins should be evaluated by a vascular surgeon.
Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to treat varicose veins and spider veins since 1930’s. Sclerotherapy involves an injection of a solution directly into the swollen vein. 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 such as Laser vein treatment can be tried.
Who is a candidates for Sclerotherapy ?
Prior to sclerotherapy, you will have an initial consultation with your physician who will decide if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. You are not eligible if you are pregnant or if you have had a blood clot in the past, your eligibility will be decided on an individual basis, and will depend on the overall health of the area needing treatment as well as the reason for the clot.
How does Sclerotherapy work ?
In most cases of sclerotherapy, a solution is injected through a very fine needle directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to collapse and stick together. The vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.
Does Sclerotherapy procedure hurt ?
Sclerotherapy involves an injection of a solution directly into the swollen vein. At this point, you may experience mild discomfort and cramping for one to two minutes, especially when larger veins are injected.
How long does the procedure take ?
The procedure itself takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes. The number of veins injected in one session depends on the size and location of the veins, as well as the general medical condition of the patient.
What to do before Sclerotherapy ?
Prior to sclerotherapy, you should avoid certain medications. Talk to your doctor about all medicines (including over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements) you are taking. If you need to take an antibiotic before sclerotherapy, contact your doctor. No lotion should be applied to the legs before the procedure. Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin or other anti-inflammatory drugs for 48-72 hours before sclerotherapy. Tylenol, however, should not affect this procedure.
What are the side effects of Sclerotherapy ?
You may experience some milder effects, such as itching, which can last for one or two days after the procedure. Also, you may experience raised, red areas at the injection site. These should disappear within a few days. Bruising may also occur around the injection site and can last several days or weeks. Larger veins that have been injected may become lumpy and hard and may require several months to dissolve and fade.
You should contact your doctor if more serious side effects appear, such as sudden onset of leg or groin swelling or formation of small ulcers at the injection site.
When will I see the results ?
After Sclerotherapy treatment the veins may continue to appear days or weeks after the procedure, but should fade within three to twelve months without further treatment.
What Happens After Sclerotherapy ? What should I expect after the procedure ?
- After sclerotherapy you will be able to drive yourself home and resume your regular daily activities.
- Walking is encouraged.
- You will be instructed to wear support stockings or compression stockings to compress the treated vessels. You are encouraged to bring them with you for use after the treatment. Your doctor’s office can recommend where to purchase compression stockings
- Following the injections, avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory drugs for at least 48 hours. Tylenol may be used if needed.
- You should avoid Hot baths, Hot compresses, Whirlpools or saunas and Direct exposure to sunlight following 48 hours after treatment. Showers are permitted, but the water should be cooler than usual. The injection sites may be washed with a mild soap and water.