Sclerotherapy Treatment

Closed-up of surgical injection pointed on leg and as a banner image of Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy. The Vein Institute

sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure for treating small varicose veins and spider veins. It focuses on closing damaged veins by injecting them with a sclerosing agent, while guided in place using ultrasound imagery. Sclerotherapy is a very common and simple treatment option for varicose veins and spider veins.

Once injected, the pharmaceutical solution irritates the lining of the vein walls, causing them to close and prevent blood from flowing. As the body heals, it reroutes blood flow to other normally functioning veins and the treated vein disappears within a few weeks.

Sclerotherapy is not a new procedure and has been used to treat veins for the past 150 years. Significant advancements have been made to improve the technique to what it is today including the use of ultrasound and foam sclerotherapy. Both medications used at our clinic, Sodium Tetradecyl Sulfate and Aethosxysclerol, are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia for the treatment of varicose veins.

Benefits at a glance

  • Is a low risk, minimally invasive procedure
  • No general or local anaesthetic is required
  • Generally takes less than 30 minutes for a treatment
  • No downtime and patient can resume normal activities immediately
  • Minimal pain free with patients experiencing only minor discomfort
  • Works most effectively when used in conjunction with Endovenous Laser Ablation or Radiofrequency Ablation for varicose
  • Success rates of 75-90% (when used independently)
  • Quick and simple outpatient procedure
  • The body absorbs the problem vein and reroutes the blood to a healthy vein
  • Significantly faster recovery period than surgical stripping

What to expect during the procedure

  • Ultrasound will be used to reveal the problem vein and its path throughout your body
  • Guided by ultrasound, a fine needle is slowly inserted into the affected vein and the solution is released
  • Each injection delivers around 0.1 to 0.4 mL of the solution and is injected at an interval of 2 to 3 cm until the entire vein has been treated
  • The solution, works by irritating the lining of the vein causing it to swell shut and block the flow of blood
  • After the needle is removed, the area is compressed with a bandage

Why ultrasound is important

During sclerotherapy, ultrasound is used to visualise the veins as they are being injected. It’s an integral part of the process because ultrasound helps the doctor see exactly where the sclerosing solution is going. It works by bouncing high frequency sound waves off internal structures, forming an image below the skin’s surface.

Post treatment

You’ll be allowed to go home almost immediately after your procedure. To help with your recovery, you’ll be asked to wear the bandages provided continuously for 48 hours, and special compression socks for a further 3 – 5 days. You will also need to walk a minimum of 30 minutes each day for 2 weeks after treatment.

Patients can expect an improvement in the vein’s appearance within a few weeks. They should also see a reduction of symptoms such as pain, swelling, itching and burning.

It’s normal to experience some side-effects after sclerotherapy. Keep in mind that these are only temporary, and should resolve completely within a couple of weeks or months. These may include: a mild allergic reaction (such as itching or swelling) to the sclerosing agent or tiny blood vessels may form in the treated area. This temporary condition is called revascularization and it normally goes away on its own after a few months.

In extremely rare cases, more serious complication can occur after sclerotherapy. Seek medical care immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Acute inflammation or swelling in the injected region.
  • Small ulcers or wounds forming at the injection site.
  • Swelling in one or both legs immediately after treatment.
  • Chest pain after the procedure which can indicate DVT or Pulmonary Embolism.