Sclerotherapy is a procedure that eliminates varicose and spider veins using a solution injected directly into the vein.
There were 323,609 sclerotherapy procedures performed in 2014 in the U.S.
Patients choose to have sclerotherapy procedures if they want to treat conditions like:
- Visible branching or web-like veins
- Aching and swelling in legs
- Leg cramps after periods of prolonged sitting or standing
Varicose and spider veins are the result of malfunctioning valves inside the veins. Healthy veins have valves that keep the blood flowing in one direction. When valves loose elasticity because of age and other factors, they become weak and allow blood to flow backward. This blood can pool and form varicose or spider veins. Sometimes varicose and spider veins are not harmful, but sometimes they cause pain and cramping in the leg and can lead to ulcers.
Medical studies have found sclerotherapy to be effective at treating varicose and spider veins 50% to 80% of the time. Approximately, 10% of patients who undergo sclerotherapy do not respond to the treatment.
The average cost of sclerotherapy is $344, though this does not include doctor fees. Medical coverage for sclerotherapy will depend on the reason for treatment. If patients choose to have sclerotherapy for cosmetic reasons, healthcare companies usually will not cover the procedure. Healthcare companies may cover the procedure for medical reasons like leg pain and cramping, or to help reduce ulcers.
There are several other treatments available for varicose and spider veins. Read more about laser therapy here. A skilled healthcare professional will help you decide which procedure is best for you.
Sclerotherapy treatments usually do not require anesthesia. The patient will lie back on a table with the legs slightly elevated. The targeted area will be cleansed with alcohol, and the medical professional will insert a thin needle into the vein.
After the solution or foam is injected, the doctor will massage the injection site to help disperse the solution and to keep blood out of the targeted vessel.
The solution will damage the walls of the vein and cause the vein to collapse and swell shut. The vein will eventually turn into scar tissue and disappear. Patients may experience mild discomfort and cramping while the treatment is occurring. Some injections will include a local anesthetic.
The injection will cause the vein to swell and seal shut, stopping the flow of blood. The body will reroute blood flow to healthier veins, and the closed vein will fade within a few weeks.
After the injection, the injection site may be covered in compressive tape or stockings. One vein may need multiple injections.
The number of injections will depend on the number of veins being treated. The procedure usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes per leg.
Patients will be able to return to normal activities after the procedure, and are even encouraged to move and walk to keep blood clots from forming in the legs. Patients may be advised to avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks.
Results of sclerotherapy may take between three and six weeks to appear. Larger varicose veins make take up to four months to have noticeable results. Results should be permanent though new varicose and spider veins can appear in the leg.
Risks of Sclerotherapy
- Skin sores
- Darkened skin
- Hardening of veins
- Brown lines
- Blood clot
- Change in skin sensation
- Neurovascularization—development of new, small blood vessels.
- Allergic reaction to the solution
- Swollen leg
- Unsatisfactory results
Healthcare professionals should discuss all material risks with patients before the procedure.
Medical Malpractice and Sclerotherapy
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury during a sclerotherapy treatment, contact Gilman & Bedigian today. Our medical malpractice attorneys will help you decide if you have a viable case, and can help you obtain fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other past and future expenses. We are committed to utilizing our extensive resources to successfully resolve your medical malpractice claim.
Call (800) 529-6162 today to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.