What is Sclerotherapy?
The Short Read
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical treatment to remove spider veins by performing multiple small injections in the legs. The treatment is much less invasive than surgery and can have dramatic results.
The Long Read
Sclerotherapy treatments are a specialist non-surgical treatment where a professional sclerotherapist injects hypertonic saline, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, polidocanol, or chromated glycerin into the blood vessels or lymph vessels. It is typically used as a treatment for unsightly spider veins. In this article, we are going to delve deeper into the history, usage and benefits and drawbacks of this particular type of treatment.
The History of Sclerotherapy Treatments
The word sclerotherapy is a derivative of the Greek word skleros which means “hard.” The treatment is typically used to remedy blood vessel problems such as spider veins.
The first recorded sclerotherapy treatment was performed by Swiss specialist D Zollikofer in 1682 where he reportedly carried out intravenous treatment using acid to treat thrombus formation. In 1853 further developments were made in the evolution of sclerotherapy when two doctors, Dr Debout and Dr Cassaignaic attempted to treat spider veins by injecting perchlorate of iron into the veins.
There were further developments in sclerotherapy in the early 1920’s when Professor Sicard and his team introduced sodium carbonate and sodium salicylate as sclerotherapy agents. Quinine was introduced later on with some promising results as a treatment for spider veins.
The 1980’s saw the introduction and evolution of duplex ultrasonography as an addition to sclerotherapy treatments. In later years, the 3-way tap method was introduced by Lorenzo Tessari which pushed the science of sclerotherapy to another level; mainly used to treat large, prominent veins, the technique using foam was later developed by Dr Whitely and Dr Patel. They attempted to utilize silicone-free syringes to prolong the lifespan of the foam.
Sclerotherapy is commonly used to reduce the appearance of spider veins (venous insufficiency). Spider veins appear on the surface of the skin, usually on the legs when the veins begin to enlarge and swell up. This often happens when the vein walls become weak leading to subsequent collapse of the vein valves. Sclerotherapy works by shrinking the veins to reduce the chances of vein or blood vessel damage. Less pain, a significant reduction in the overall appearance of unsightly raised veins is the main aim of sclerotherapy.
The main goal of sclerotherapy is to reduce the size of the enlarged vein while reducing the chances of damaging surrounding veins. When performing sclerotherapy treatment, the aim is to utilize the least amount of concentrated formula to achieve the desired result without causing negative side effects.
Prior to booking a sclerotherapy appointment, clients must take part in a consultation to evaluate the severity of the situation. During the consultation, we will assess whether or not you are a suitable candidate for the treatment. Once the specialist confirms eligibility, an appointment is made for the actual treatment to take place.
In most cases, clients will not need anaesthesia or any procedure prior to undergoing the sclerotherapy treatment. During your initial consultation, we will provide you with some information regarding preparation for the treatment.
Throughout the procedure, the patient lies on their back, the site is cleaned using an antibacterial solution. A solution such as hypertonic saline, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, polidocanol or chromated glycerin is injected directly into the vein using a tiny needle. Once the solution has been injected into the vein, the injection site is massaged to reduce the risk of excessive swelling or blood accumulation.
Upon completion of the procedure, patients are often advised to wear compression socks to prevent blood clots or excessive blood accumulation. Frequent exercise such as walking and light jogging is advised to improve healing.
There are a number of benefits associated with choosing sclerotherapy as an effective treatment for spider veins. We have listed the benefits below:
Great Long Term Results
Sclerotherapy is a good option for treating spider veins because it provides great long term results. There are a number of short term treatment methods available such as special lotions and compression socks but these treatments require daily action. However, with sclerotherapy, once an area is successfully treated, it is highly unlikely that the process will have to be repeated.
Sclerotherapy is practically non-invasive, it provides similar results to invasive surgery without the pain and the downtime. Because of the fact that it does not involve making a skin incision, the risk of complications is much lower than undergoing surgery.
Depending on the severity of the enlarged veins, the procedure can be performed in 15 to 30 minutes. There is often no downtime, and patients can return to their regular routine straight away.
The risk is minimal, less chance of experiencing adverse side effects as a result of the treatment. Most people that suffer from side effects experience some kind of allergic reaction to the solution that is injected into the vein. Generally though, side effects are few and far between.
Sclerotherapy is extremely cost effective, it is significantly less costly than surgery and in the long run, you will save money because you will no longer need to purchase special, topical lotions or gels to reduce the appearance of spider veins.
There may be some drawbacks associated with sclerotherapy however, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.
Here is a list of some of the drawbacks associated with choosing sclerotherapy as a treatment for spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is effective 70 to 80 percent of the time however, in the unlikely event that the treatment fails to meet expectations, some patients might have to undergo repeat treatments to achieve the desired result.
Allergic reactions are uncommon however, it is possible to develop an allergic reaction to the solution that is injected during sclerotherapy treatment.
Bruising and Swelling
Bruising and swelling occasionally occurs, this usually disappears after a couple of days.
Sclerotherapy is one of many spider vein treatments out there however, sclerotherapy offers value for money, minimal recovery time and it delivers long term results without the invasiveness of cosmetic surgery.