Before / After
Sclerotherapy treats varicose veins by injecting substances into the veins. These substances cause blood clotting, which solidifies the veins, and ultimately these clotted veins simply fade away. Spider veins are typically injected with a liquid, while larger veins are typically injected with a foam. Foam injection is sometimes performed under ultrasound guidance. Learn more about sclerotherapy procedures below.
spider vens


Sclerotherapy effectively treats some medium sized varicose veins, and smaller spider veins. It's often considered the treatment of choice for smaller varicose veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein. The sclerotherapy solution causes the vein to scar and collapse, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is resorbed into local tissue and eventually disappears .
After sclerotherapy, treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take up to a month to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.

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Side Effects

Sclerotherapy is a fairly safe procedure with few complications.

Side effects that may require treatment

Other complications are less common but may require treatment. These include:
  • Inflammation. This is usually mild but may cause swelling, warmth and discomfort around the injection site. Your doctor may suggest aspirin or antibiotics to reduce the inflammation.
  • Blood clot. A lump of clotted blood may form in a treated vein that may require drainage. Rarely, a blood clot may travel to a deeper vein in your leg (deep vein thrombosis). Deep vein thrombosis carries a risk of pulmonary embolism, an emergency situation where the clot travels from your leg to your lungs and blocks a vital artery. Seek immediate medical care if you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain or dizziness, or you cough up blood.
  • Allergic reaction. It's possible that you may have an allergic reaction to the solution used for treatment, but this is uncommon.

Temporary side effects

Some side effects that may occur at the site of the injection include:
  • Raised red areas
  • Small skin sores
  • Darkened skin in the form of lines or spots
These side effects usually go away within a few days to several weeks.

During the Procedure

For 24 hours before the procedure, avoid shaving or applying any lotion to your legs. Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment. 

During the procedure

  • For the procedure, you'll lie on your back with your legs slightly elevated. After cleansing the area to be treated with alcohol, your doctor will use a fine needle to slowly insert a solution into the appropriate vein. The solution, usually in liquid form, works by irritating the lining of the vein, causing it to swell shut and block the flow of blood. Eventually, the vein will become scar tissue and disappear. Some doctors may use a foam version of the solution, particularly when a larger vein is involved. Foam tends to cover more surface area than liquid.
  • Some people experience minor stinging or cramps when the needle is inserted into the vein. If you have a lot of pain, tell your doctor; it may be because the solution has leaked from the vein into surrounding tissue.
  • Once the needle is withdrawn, your doctor applies compression and massages the area to keep blood out of the injected vessel and disperse the solution. A compression pad may be taped onto the injection site to keep the area compressed while your doctor moves on to the next vein.
  • The number of injections depends on the number and size of veins being treated.
  • After the Procedure

    • After the procedure
      After the procedure, you rest on your back for 15 to 20 minutes. Your doctor checks your injection sites for any immediate side effects. You can then get up and walk around. Walking and moving your legs is important to prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • You'll be asked to wear compression stockings or socks during the day — usually for about three weeks — to maintain compression on the treated veins.
  • Most people return to their normal activities on the same day, but it may be wise to consider having someone drive you home after the procedure. You'll want to avoid sun exposure to the treated areas during the first 30 days,or as long as there remains any significant redness at the injection sites. The inflammation caused by the injections combined with sun exposure can lead to dark spots on your skin, especially if you already have a dark skin tone.
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