Spider veins are a problem faced by men and women all over the world. Fortunately, there is a simple treatment that can help eliminate the unsightly building of veins and minimize the pain and discomfort that comes with varicose veins. At Advanced Dermatology Center, located in Walcott, CT, we offer specialized sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins for both cosmetic and medical reasons.
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?
Sclerotherapy uses a special chemical compound known as a sclerosant. This chemical compound is injected into the vein where it goes to work breaking down the innermost layer of the vein’s walls. There are many different chemical compounds in this family, and your doctor will recommend one based on the severity of the vein damage and the location of the veins to be treated.
Most sclerosants are made of a liquid salt mixture that can be easily injected into tiny veins. However, for large networks of veins, your doctor may choose a foam sclerosant to do the job. This foam mixture guarantees that the chemical agent comes in contact with all sides of the vein and gives it more time to work. In addition, some agents include a small amount of lidocaine to reduce discomfort during the injection.
What Happens Next?
After the sclerosant is injected, and the walls of the vein begin to break down, it causes a small clot that cuts off blood flow to the affected area. When this happens, the vein loses oxygen and begins to collapse on itself. Once the vein has collapsed it begins to die off, and your body naturally reabsorbs this tissue. As your body reabsorbs the blood and veins, the bulging will go down, and the visibility of these veins will be reduced.
As you can see, this process is minimally invasive and comes with few side effects. However, it may take several weeks to months to see the final results of your therapy. This is because it takes time for your body to effectively block off the veins and absorb the tissue. During this time, you may see some darkening of the skin as the chemical goes to work.
Preparing for Treatment
Before you can schedule your therapy session, you first need to meet with the doctor for a consultation. During this consultation, your doctor will inspect the visible veins that you wish to have treated. He will also take your medical history and determine whether there are any other risk factors that may impact the outcome of your treatment. While this treatment is very common and generally safe, certain allergies, illnesses, and prescriptions could interfere with the chemical process.
Your doctor may also send you for an ultrasound to ensure that the agent will be injected into the correct vein at the time of treatment. Often times, patients suffer from a complex case of varicose and spider veins, so it is important that the doctor treat the largest area possible at one time. In rare cases, your doctor may suggest multiple treatments over the course of several months.
On the day of your treatment, you will arrive at your doctor’s office and get checked in. Since this is a simple procedure that does not require anesthetic, you can expect to spend less than one hour in the office. Your doctor may advise you to wear comfortable clothes or shorts so the veins being treated are easily accessible. Your doctor will clean the injection site and have you elevate your legs before making the injection.
You may feel a slight sting at the injection site, but the process itself is not painful. It only takes a few moments to finish injecting the chemical agent, and then the needle will be removed. At this point, your doctor may recommend massaging the area to help reduce soreness. You will also want to keep some pressure on the area to ensure that the chemical agent is fully disbursed and blood does not re-enter the vein.
Immediately after treatment, your doctor will give you a recommended schedule for movement, exercise, and check-ups. Moving your legs is important to prevent the build-up of blood clots. However, strenuous exercise should be avoided until the area is completely healed or around two weeks. Up until then, you should make sure to wear compression socks that help prevent the backflow of blood into your legs and make sure that you are keeping your legs elevated when you are sitting for long periods of time.
In addition to caring for your treated veins, your doctor may also advise you to avoid excessive sun exposure and any lotions or skin treatments that might irritate the area. Once the injection site is healed, you can return to shaving and applying lotion as normal.
Approximately one month after treatment, your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment. At this point, they may conduct another ultrasound of the veins or just do a visual inspection to track the progress of the working agent. In some cases, a secondary treatment may be required to deal with any veins that have not fully disappeared. If this is the case, your doctor may schedule a second treatment several weeks out to give your body the best chance at making progress on the veins on its own.
Your doctor may also take this opportunity to look for signs of other bulging veins in the treated area. In rare cases, the treated veins disappear, but the blood is re-routed causing the appearance of new veins. If this happens, your doctor may suggest another treatment, order elect to wait and see if the veins naturally restore themselves when all the excess blood is absorbed. This typically happens within six weeks.
When Do You Need To Seek Treatment for Varicose Veins?
The most common reason that men and women seek treatment for varicose veins is cosmetic. Varicose veins and spider veins can both produce unwanted effects in the legs which decrease your comfort and confidence. For many women, wearing skirts and dresses becomes a burden when their veins are visible. Fortunately, this chemical therapy can help reverse the damage and restore the appearance of smooth and healthy skin.
Beyond the appearance of varicose veins, there are many medical reasons for having this treatment done. Many people report that their legs become sensitive and sore due to the presence of varicose veins. This could be because blood pooling is putting stress on the veins which makes them tender. In addition, excessive pulling of blood in the legs can lead to a number of other medical complications including blood clots that have a tendency to make their way into vital organs.
This therapy can also help reduce chronic swelling of the legs and feet, cramps, and itching or aching feelings just beneath the skin. If you suffer from any of these ailments, treating your veins may be the first step in recovery.
What Causes Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Your veins are responsible for delivering blood throughout your body. In order to ensure the blood flows up to your heart from your legs, instead of flowing backward towards gravity, your veins utilize tiny valves that close between heartbeats. As you age, these valves become less effective, and some blood may begin pooling in your feet and legs. The pooling of blood well first up here at swelling in the lower extremities, and can usually be treated by simply elevating your legs at the end of the day.
However, over time the added pressure on your veins can cause them to weaken and permanently bulge. This build-up of bulging veins is eventually what causes the veins to become visible through the skin. This condition is known as venous insufficiency. In the early stages, elevating your feet and using compression stockings may be enough to treat the problem, but as it worsens additional treatment options may be required.
The Results: What to Expect
Spider Veins are thin networks of veins that appear like spiderwebs just beneath the outermost layer of skin. Because they are so small, treatment with sclerotherapy is extremely effective, and you can generally expect to see your finished results in less than six weeks. If you are only having spider veins treated, you may see up to an 80% reduction in vein visibility. You are also less likely to see the reappearance of spider veins in the future.
Varicose veins, on the other hand, are a little harder to treat. While you can still expect a drastic reduction in the appearance of these veins, it may take as long as four months to see the final results. In addition, varicose veins are more likely to require a second treatment in the future. If you have signs of varicose veins in both legs, your doctor may choose to treat only one leg at a time so that they can monitor your progress more closely.
If your doctor feels that the first treatment was not sufficient, then they recommend a different chemical solution to try and get more complete results. Your doctor may also recommend surgical or laser treatments in conjunction with chemicals injections for the best results. The extent of these treatments will depend entirely on the severity of the venous insufficiency you are facing.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not cover this procedure if it is being done for purely cosmetic reasons. This is important to keep in mind as you consider the cost and the number of treatments required. Your doctor may advise you on financing options that are available for cosmetic patients. In some cases, your insurance may be willing to cover part of the cost of this procedure if there is evidence that it will become medically necessary in the future.
On the other hand, if you were varicose veins have proceeded to a point where they are causing medical complications, it is very likely that your insurance company will cover the procedure. This can include the symptoms listed above such as pain, discomfort, chronic swelling, and more. It can also include an increased risk of heart attack and stroke caused by blood clots forming in the legs due to pooling. You should consult with your doctor about how to proceed with your insurance company.
Make a Change Today
Advanced Dermatology Center of is happy to treat patients of all ages who struggle with visible veins. Whether you are just trying to get rid of unsightly spider veins, where are you are tired of dealing with swollen legs caused by varicose veins, we can help find the right treatment for you. Our expert team will help identify the main source of your venous insufficiency, and find a treatment path that works for you. To learn more about sclerotherapy, call the Advanced Dermatology Center of Walcott, CT today and schedule your consultation.