Sclerotherapy is a nonsurgical treatment for spider veins and smaller varicose veins that involves injecting a saline or detergent-like solution into then vein, causing the lining of the vein wall to swell, stick together, and ultimately seal shut. Once the small vein is sealed, the flow of blood is stopped and scar tissue develops in the treated vein. With the varicose / spider vein sealed, blood is forced into healthier veins. The treated vein is absorbed and eventually becomes nearly invisible. Sclerotherapy may need to be performed multiple times over the course of weeks or months to achieve the desired results.
Sclerotherapy is commonly used to treat small varicose
veins or spider veins. Sclerotherapy improves the appearance of larger veins
after more invasive corrective surgery. The American Academy of
Dermatology states that most patients will experience a 50%-90%
improvement in the appearance of varicose veins if the procedure
is performed correctly. The procedure is minimally invasive, does
not require anesthesia and can be performed in a doctor's office.
Side effects of sclerotherapy may include mild stinging, bruising,
and rashes around the injection site. These symptoms usually disappear.
Additionally, the vein could become infected, inflamed or lumps
of coagulated blood may develop. These symptoms are not dangerous
and can usually be decreased by applying heat, taking aspirin or
antibiotics to relieve inflammation or by draining the coagulated
If sclerotherapy is performed strictly for cosmetic purposes, the
procedure will likely not be covered by insurance. However, treatment
may be covered if medically necessary.
Cutaneous laser surgery can be used to destroy spider veins and small varicose
veins by sending a very strong beam of light through the skin onto
the vein, making the vein slowly disappear. There are no needles
or incisions. Patient discomfort is limited to a small pinch when
the laser hits the skin. This can usually be soothed by cooling
the skin prior to and after the 15-20 minute procedure. Side effects
are minimal and include some redness and swelling of the skin that
disappears within a few days. Patients may also notice some skin
discoloration for a week or two after treatment. Most veins require
two to five treatments to achieve the desired results.
Medium-sized and larger varicose veins can be removed by a procedure
called stab avulsion or phlebectomy. This procedure can be performed
using local or general anesthesia. Small stab incisions are made
in the skin to allow a tool to be placed through the skin to hook
the vein and pull it out through the incision. The vein is
then pulled until it breaks, allowing the varicose vein to be removed
in pieces. This process is repeated until all targeted varicose
veins have been eliminated. Common side effects may include pain,
bruising, hematoma, and bleeding.