San Diego Sclerotherapy Vein Treatment
Spider veins are small, superficial, visible vessels which occur most commonly on the legs and thighs. They appear as red or blue branching networks. Larger vessels called varicose veins often occur in combination with spider veins and tend to be raised above the surface of the skin. Spider and varicose veins represent normal vessels that have dilated due to increased pressure as a result of gravity.
Spider veins tend to run in families. They are far more common in women. The female hormone estrogen probably contributes to the development of spider veins. Varicose veins increase in incidence with age and are extremely common, occurring in 72% of women age 60-69.
Spider veins and varicose veins can cause throbbing pain or a burning sensation. Patients with varicose veins have a significantly increased risk of developing DVT (deep vein thrombosis) which is a blood clot forming in the deep venous system of the leg. What makes DVT so dangerous is the risk that it may migrate to the lungs to cause respiratory distress and even death.
How are visible blood vessels on the legs treated?
Visible blood vessels of the skin can be removed with a special solution or treated with laser for cosmetic reasons or to help relieve pain symptoms. The injection method is predictably effective and involves the injection of a detergent-like solution which irritates the inner lining of the blood vessel, causing the blood vessel to close down. Lasers work by creating heat within the blood vessels, causing them to close down.
Other techniques used to treat larger varicose veins include endovenous laser (laser used to seal and eliminate blood vessels from within the vessel), vein stripping (surgical removal of the blood vessel, ligation (tying the vessel off), and radiofrequency.
What are the contraindications to sclerotherapy?
The following are contraindication to sclerotherapy:
- Elderly and sedentary
- History of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolus
- Severe systemic diseases including diabetes, heart, kidney, liver, lung, connective tissue disease and malignancy
- Individuals on warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Overweight individuals (>20% of ideal weight)
- Thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)
How effective is sclerotherapy?
After 3-5 treatments, most patients can expect an 80 – 90 percent improvement. Fading of any dark spots will gradually occur over months. Though the injected vessels may resolve with injections, over time, new blood vessels may develop in the same general area. Very small blood vessels may be more resistant to treatment.
What are the side effects to sclerotherapy?
Although sclerotherapy is a relatively safe procedure when performed in healthy individuals, the sclerotherapy procedure carries some associated risks and side effects including:
- Temporary hive-like reactions
- Stinging or pain at the sites of injection
- Muscle cramps
- Swelling of ankles or feet
- Brown lines overlying the treated blood vessels (usually fade with time)
- Bruising (temporary)
- The development of fine visible blood vessels near the sites of injection of larger vessels.
- Small ulcers at treatment sites
- Lumps/blood clots at the sites of injection (can easily be removed)
- Inflammation of treated blood vessels.
What can I do to prevent spider and varicose veins?
Wearing pressure support hose can help prevent new spider and varicose veins from developing. Use of these stockings can also decrease the pain and discomfort of varicose veins. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise may decrease the risk of venous stasis and enlargement of these vessels.
What aftercare is recommended after sclerotherapy?
After a sclerotherapy session, patients are advised to wear compression stockings the first night and during the day for the following 1-2 weeks. This may help to seal the treated blood vessels and reduce the development of small clots. Vigorous exercise and activity should be avoided 2 weeks following the procedure.
Discuss with your dermatologist whether sclerotherapy would be appropriate for you.