Erase Spider Veins with Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that has been helping people eliminate unsightly spider veins and small varicose veins for decades. If you're bothered by the appearance of these veins on your legs, you may be considering sclerotherapy as a solution. But what exactly is sclerotherapy, and how does it work?

In this post, we'll dive into the details of sclerotherapy, including what types of veins it can treat, how to prepare for the procedure, and what to expect during and after treatment. We'll also discuss the potential risks and side effects, as well as the results you can expect from sclerotherapy. By the end, you'll have a better understanding of whether this treatment is right for you.

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What Is Sclerotherapy and How Does It Work?

If you're troubled by varicose or spider veins, consider trying sclerotherapy. In this minimally invasive treatment, doctors use a needle to inject a special chemical called a sclerosing agent straight into your damaged vein. The injected solution agitates the inner wall of your blood vessel so much that it swells up and sticks shut while forming clots.
Over time, the treated vein turns into scar tissue that eventually fades away. The whole procedure happens right in a doctor's office and usually takes between 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how many veins need treatment.

How Sclerotherapy Eliminates Damaged Veins

The injected solution works by irritating the inner lining of the vein, causing inflammation. This leads to the vein walls sticking together and the blood inside to clot. Over several weeks, the damaged vein is absorbed by the body and replaced with scar tissue that eventually fades.
Sclerotherapy can be done using a liquid solution or a foam version mixed with air. Foam sclerotherapy is often used for larger varicose veins as it covers a greater surface area and has a longer contact time with the vein walls.

What to Expect During the Procedure

During sclerotherapy, you'll lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated. After cleansing the area, your doctor will use a fine needle to slowly insert the solution into the appropriate veins.
You may feel some mild discomfort, like a burning or cramping sensation, during the injections. The number of veins injected per session varies based on the size and location of the veins. Typically, multiple injection sites are needed to ensure the solution reaches all of the damaged vein.
After the procedure, your doctor will massage the treated area to keep the solution in the injected veins and disperse it evenly. They may also have you wear compression stockings to maintain pressure on the treated vessels.

Types of Veins Treated with Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is most commonly used to treat spider veins and small to medium varicose veins. These are the veins you can see bulging under the skin, often resembling a cord or a web-like pattern. While they're usually not a serious medical condition, many people seek treatment for cosmetic reasons or to relieve aching, throbbing, or a heavy feeling in their legs.

Differences Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Spider veins are the small, thin veins that are close to the skin's surface. They often look like a spider web or branches of a tree, and are usually red, blue, or purple. They're commonly found on the legs and face.
Varicose veins are the larger, ropey veins that bulge above the skin's surface. They're usually darker in color - blue or purple - and are caused by weak or damaged vein valves that allow blood to pool in the vein instead of flowing efficiently back to the heart.

Characteristics That Increase Chances of Developing Vein Issues

A few things could make you more susceptible to having spider and varicose veins appear.
  • Genetics/family history
  • Age (over 50)
  • Gender (females more likely)
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged standing or sitting
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, menopause, birth control pills)
  • Prior leg injury or surgery
While anyone can get these vein issues, having a combination of risk factors significantly increases your likelihood. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits like exercising, watching your weight, and avoiding sitting or standing for long stretches can help prevent them. And if you do develop spider or varicose veins, sclerotherapy is a safe, effective treatment to eliminate those tiny blood vessels.

Preparing for Sclerotherapy Treatment

If you're thinking about getting rid of those pesky spider or varicose veins with sclerotherapy, being well-prepared can make a big difference. Taking the right steps before your treatment helps you get better results and reduces the chances of any issues popping up.

When to Consider Sclerotherapy

Many people seek sclerotherapy for cosmetic reasons - they simply don't like the look of those squiggly purple and blue veins on their legs. But there are also medical reasons to consider treatment. If your veins are causing pain, aching, burning, itching, or a feeling of heaviness in your legs, sclerotherapy can help alleviate those symptoms.
Sclerotherapy is often the treatment of choice for small varicose veins and spider veins. However, it may not be recommended if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of blood clots, or have certain circulatory issues. Your doctor can help determine if you're a good candidate.

What to Expect Before the Procedure

Once you've decided to move forward with sclerotherapy, your doctor will give you specific instructions to prepare. Typically, this includes:
  • Avoiding certain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs for 7-10 days before treatment. These can increase bruising and bleeding. If you take blood thinners, you may need to temporarily stop them as well.
  • Getting any recommended blood tests to rule out any underlying circulatory disorders that could impact the procedure.
  • Purchasing prescribed compression stockings or support hosiery to wear after the treatment. These help keep pressure on the treated veins and promote healing.
  • Avoiding lotion or moisturizer on your legs the day of the procedure.
  • Bringing loose, comfortable shorts to wear during the injections.
If you've previously had any vein-related procedures - be it laser therapy or surgical intervention - informing your doctor of these past treatments is crucial. This helps them determine the best course of action regarding sclerotherapy's suitability.

Sclerotherapy Procedure and Aftercare

Curious about using sclerotherapy on your spider or varicose veins but unsure of what's involved in the process itself? Questions may include its duration, level of discomfort during treatment, and necessary post-procedure care tips for achieving great results.

What Happens During the Injection

First, your doctor will have you lie down on your back with your legs slightly elevated. After cleansing the treatment area, they'll use a very fine needle to inject the sclerosing solution directly into the targeted veins.
You may feel some mild discomfort, like a burning or cramping sensation, during the injections. But don't worry - it's usually well-tolerated and subsides quickly. The number of injections you'll need depends on how many veins are being treated.
The whole procedure typically takes less than an hour. Afterward, your doctor will massage the treated areas to help disperse the solution and keep it in the injected veins. They may also have you put on compression stockings right away.

Aftercare Rules and Recovery Time

Immediately after the procedure, you'll be able to get up and walk around. In fact, walking is encouraged to prevent blood clots and promote circulation. You can return to most normal activities right away, but you'll want to avoid strenuous exercise for a few days.
Make sure to follow these additional essential aftercare steps:
  • Wearing your compression stockings or support hose as directed, usually for about 2 weeks. This helps maintain pressure on the treated veins.
  • Avoiding hot baths, hot compresses, whirlpools, saunas, and direct exposure to sunlight for 1-2 weeks. Heat can cause the veins to dilate and delay healing.
  • Keeping the injection sites clean by washing with mild soap and lukewarm water.
  • Avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen for 48 hours to minimize bruising. Acetaminophen is okay for any discomfort.
  • Scheduling a follow-up visit with your doctor within 2 weeks to assess your results and determine if additional treatments are needed.
Most people can resume all their usual activities within a day or two. But it's important to give your body time to heal and respond to the treatment. You should start to see improvements in the appearance of your veins within a few weeks, with full results in a few months.
While sclerotherapy is generally safe, there are potential side effects like bruising, redness, and darkened skin at the injection sites. These usually resolve on their own. More serious complications, like allergic reactions or blood clots, are rare but can occur.
If you have any concerning symptoms or your veins don't seem to be responding after several weeks, don't hesitate to contact your doctor. With proper technique and aftercare, sclerotherapy can effectively eliminate those unwanted spider and varicose veins, restoring smoother, clearer skin.

Key Takeaway:

Erase spider veins and say goodbye to aching, throbbing legs with sclerotherapy - a minimally invasive treatment that eliminates damaged veins by irritating the inner lining, causing it to swell, stick together, and the blood to clot, eventually turning into scar tissue that fades from view.

Risks and Side Effects of Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is generally a safe procedure with few complications. But like any medical treatment, it does come with some risks and potential side effects.
Most are mild and temporary, but it's important to be aware of them before deciding if sclerotherapy is right for you. Your vein specialist can discuss the risks and benefits based on your medical history and specific vein issues.

Potential Complications

When you undergo sclerotherapy, some common side effects might pop up.
  • Bruising around the injection sites (can last several days or weeks).
  • Raised, red areas (should disappear within a few days).
  • Brown lines or spots on the skin (may take months to fade).
  • Neovascularization (development of new, tiny blood vessels).
  • Allergic reaction to the sclerosing solution.
  • Inflammation or phlebitis (usually mild but can cause swelling, warmth, discomfort).
More serious complications like blood clots, air bubbles, or ulceration of the injection site are rare but require immediate medical attention if suspected. Your doctor can discuss ways to minimize risks, such as avoiding certain medications before treatment.

Signs of Deep Vein Blood Clots

In very rare cases, sclerotherapy can lead to the formation of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a serious condition where a blood clot forms in the deeper veins of the leg.
Be on the lookout for symptoms of DVT, which can include leg discomfort and swelling.
  • Sudden swelling in the leg.
  • Leg pain or tenderness.
  • Skin redness, particularly at the back of the leg below the knee.
Those with a history of blood clots or clotting disorders have a higher risk for developing DVT after sclerotherapy. Seeking prompt medical care is crucial if any symptoms appear. Your doctor may recommend blood tests before treatment to check for any underlying issues.

Sclerotherapy Results and Permanence

One of the top questions I get about sclerotherapy is, "How long will it take to see results?" The answer depends on the size and type of veins being treated.
Spider veins usually respond within 3-6 weeks, while reticular veins can take 1-3 months. Varicose veins may need 3-4 months to fully disappear. Results can vary based on factors like age, skin type, and overall health.

How Many Treatments Are Needed

Most of my patients see a 50-90% improvement after 3-6 treatments. But the number of sclerotherapy sessions needed varies based on the individual.
Smaller veins often respond faster than larger ones. I usually space treatments 4-6 weeks apart to allow time for healing and results to be seen. Some insurance companies may provide coverage for a certain number of sessions.

Can Veins Reappear After Treatment

While sclerotherapy has a high success rate, it's not a 100% guarantee. There is always a chance that treated veins can reappear or new ones can develop, especially in those with a strong family history.
Veins that don't respond fully to the injections may need additional treatments. And many patients require periodic touch-ups every 1-3 years to maintain their results.
The good news is, with each treatment the veins usually become less noticeable and need less frequent injections over time. Patients who get sclerotherapy for cosmetic reasons tend to be very satisfied with the long-term results.

Alternatives to Sclerotherapy for Vein Treatment

While sclerotherapy is considered the gold standard for spider and varicose veins, it's not the only option. Some patients may not be good candidates or simply prefer a different approach.
I often discuss these great options with my patients:

Other Methods to Improve Spider and Varicose Veins

  • Laser therapy: Focused light pulses constrict the vein and cause it to fade over time. Best for small spider veins.
  • Endovenous ablation: Radiofrequency or laser energy delivered inside the vein causes it to collapse and seal shut. Used for larger varicose veins, including the great saphenous vein.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy: Larger, protruding varicose veins are surgically removed through small incisions. More invasive treatment with longer recovery time.
  • Vein stripping/ligation: Tying off and removing the vein through incisions. Reserved for the most severe cases.
The best treatment depends on the size, location, and severity of the veins. A vein specialist can determine the most appropriate minimally invasive or invasive approach for each patient's unique needs.

Preventing Damaged Veins After Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy can achieve excellent results, but it's not a one-and-done solution. Patients need to be proactive about preventing new damaged veins from forming.
As a vein specialist, I'm always emphasizing the importance of healthy lifestyle behaviors and self-care to maintain the positive effects of treatment.

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Veins

I love sharing these helpful pointers with my patients during our sessions:
  • Exercise regularly to improve leg strength and circulation.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Elevate legs when resting, especially after prolonged sitting or standing.
  • Avoid crossing legs while sitting.
  • Wear sunscreen to protect skin and veins from UV damage.
  • Eat a low-salt, high-fiber diet.
  • Stay hydrated to keep blood flowing smoothly.
  • Avoid tight clothing that constricts circulation.

When to Wear Compression Stockings

If you're recovering from sclerotherapy, don't forget about using those essential compression stockings. Check out these ones at this link here. They put gentle pressure on your legs to boost blood flow and keep those annoying venous insufficiency symptoms at bay.
I often suggest wearing compression stockings to help improve blood circulation.
  • Continuously for 48 hours after the procedure (even while sleeping).
  • During the day for the next 2-3 weeks.
  • When flying or driving long distances.
  • During pregnancy (especially with a family history of vein issues).
  • When standing for long periods.
  • During exercise and strenuous activities.
Compression stockings come in different lengths and compression levels, so it's important to get fitted properly and replace them every 3-6 months. Support hosiery is also available at most pharmacies or department stores for milder cases.

Key Takeaway:

To get the most out of sclerotherapy, educate yourself on potential risks and side effects beforehand. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor about ways to minimize them. Then, take proactive steps to maintain healthy veins after treatment, such as exercising regularly, elevating your legs, and wearing compression stockings to ensure long-lasting results.


Sclerotherapy is a safe, effective, and minimally invasive treatment for spider veins and small varicose veins. While it may require multiple sessions and some downtime, the results can be truly transformative for those who have been self-conscious about their legs.
If you're considering sclerotherapy, it's important to do your research and choose a qualified provider who has experience with this procedure. With the right care and attention, you can enjoy smoother, clearer, and more confident legs for years to come.
Remember, while sclerotherapy can provide significant improvements, it's not a one-time fix. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, wearing compression stockings, and following your provider's aftercare instructions can help you maximize and prolong your results.
So if you're ready to say goodbye to unsightly veins and hello to beautiful, youthful-looking legs, sclerotherapy may be the solution you've been looking for. Take the first step today and schedule a consultation with a trusted provider to see if this treatment is right for you.
Schedule your FREE consultation now.