Sclerotherapy, spraying away the spiders

Posted on January 4th, 2010 by Michelle

nicelegsSclerotherapy: A medical procedure used to eliminate varicose veins and “spider veins” in the legs.  During the procedure, an injection of a solution (generally sodium chloride) is placed directly into the vein using a tiny needle.

You’ve always admired those people with ice water in their veins.  We admire the legs of those with salt water in them.  Sclerotherapy, a procedure that involves injecting a liquid solution directly into visible veins, primarily in the legs, has been used to treat those tiny blue-purplish “spider veins” since the 1930s.

Untangling, er, erasing those unsightly web-like spots is very easy, and both discomfort and cost are fairly low.  Using a needle, the solution is injected into the affected area, irritating the lining of the vein, which closes itself off; similar to the approach you take with annoying relatives around the holidays.  They get under your skin, irritate you, you close yourself off ‘til next time.  Your veins, however, don’t open themselves up again.  The blood is rerouted through other veins and, without a blood supply, the visible veins fade.  There is a slight chance some veins won’t respond to this treatment.  Veins that do respond won’t reappear, but new spider or varicose veins can develop.  A newer, ultrasound-guided technique allows dermatologists to treat veins that lie deeper under the skin that previously could only be reached through surgery.

The procedure can sometimes be used to treat varicose veins as well. Both varicose and spider veins are caused by various stresses to the affected areas. In the legs, it can be as simple as prolonged sitting, standing or crossing of the legs — anything that affects how easily blood flows to the area.  High heels, obesity and even Mom and Dad contribute to your potential of developing them, as they are passed on genetically.

Most patients find the discomfort of sclerotherapy minimal, especially when compared to large family gatherings.  The injections are reported to feel like bee stings and there is a short burning sensation.  The treated area may be red and swollen for a day or two, but there really isn’t any down time.  Strenuous exercise should be avoided for a few days after treatment, and patients will have to wear compression stockings for several days as the area heals, which could make you regret making fun of Aunt Anabelle’s fashion choice years ago.varicose veins

Sclerotherapy is most often performed on women, but a growing number of men are opting for the treatments. With a very high success and satisfaction rate, sclerotherapy remains among the top 10 most popular procedures (8th overall in 2008) despite the rise in laser treatments being offered.  The cost per session ranges from $100-$400, and treatment usually requires 2-6 sessions, depending on the size of the veins.

This method was also regularly used to treat spider veins in the face, but these days, lasers are usually used in that area.

RESOURCES

  • The Vein Directory offers helpful information and includes a video of an actual sclerotherapy treatment.
  • Satisfaction rate for sclerotherapy fluctuates among patients at Realself.com.
  • See large veins disappear before your very eyes on this YouTube video.

One Comment on “Sclerotherapy, spraying away the spiders”

  1. Salvatore Kronstedt

    Wow.. thanks for the tips. I was trying to find the same exact information this afternoon and discovered your neat little website from Google. Kinda interesting to see how I was searching for something and it just showed up.=P

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