Understanding Sclerotherapy

VENOUS DISEASE

​Spider veins, or telangiectasias, are small red or purple blood vessels found most commonly on the lower extremities. They are hereditary and can form anywhere on the leg and even on the face. Varicose veins are larger veins that usually appear raised with a bluish color and can cause symptoms such as a dull ache. Although spider veins and varicose veins carry blood, they are not a crucial part of the venous system.  They can be eliminated through a simple office procedure called SCLEROTHERAPY. 

The Procedure

Sclerotherapy is a nonsurgical procedure used to treat varicose veins and spider veins.  It involves injections with a small needle containing a sclerosing liquid (such as saline) directly into a vein.  The liquid has an irritating effect on the vein walls, causing them to stick together and create local fibrosis (scarring).  In turn, the vein retracts from the skin and seems to fade away over a matter of a few weeks.

What should I do before my treatment?

  • Do not shave your legs or apply cream on the day of your appointment.

  • Eat a snack one hour prior to your treatment.

  • Bring shorts to wear during the procedure and slacks to wear out of the office.

  • If you take blood-thinning medications, then discuss with the doctor.

What should I do after my treatment?

  • Around 2 hours following the treatment, remove the cotton balls and tape using room temperature water, a gentle cleanser, and baby oil. 

 

  • After the treatment, ideally, you will then wear compression stockings until one week following your treatment day (during daytime hours and when ambulatory).

 

  • You can resume normal day-to-day activities and light to moderate exercise immediately. 

  • A brisk 20 minute walk is recommended the day of treatment, or walking on and off throughout the day (avoid prolonged standing or sitting)

  • No heavy aerobic exercise or weight-lifting for 3 days (particularly in the case of large varicose veins). 

  • You can shower in the morning but no hot tubs, jacuzzis or saunas for 3 days. No swImming pools for 24 hours.

  • Avoid application of hot compresses and exposure to direct sunlight/tanning beds for 5 days following the procedure.

  • If there is swelling, wrap ice in a cloth and apply to the affected area.  If the swelling persists or there are other concerns, contact the clinic.

  • You will not notice an immediate improvement.  Clearance usually occurs over a two-week period and in some cases may take up to 8 weeks in some patients. 

Are there any risks? 

The most common side effects are bruising and resultant hyper-pigmentation (light brownish in colour); this may last from a week to months. Although your practitioner will cleanse your skin with alcohol before the procedure and use all new equipment and gloves, there is always a risk of infection when the skin barrier is broken. Another risk is phlebitis, which is an inflammation along the vein. This can be treated with anti-inflammatories and usually resolves quickly. Finally the most severe, but very rare, side effect is a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot. This will present as redness and pain deeper than the level of the vein injected. It is an emergency and needs to be investigated and treated with blood thinners. 

1852 Bank Street

Ottawa, ON K1V 7Z8

For Life-Threatening Emergencies Call 911

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