At the Center for Aesthetics and Laser Medicine (CALM) of Scottsdale, AZ, our knowledgeable dermatologists and team members are committed to offering dermatology services that help our patients create their healthiest, most beautiful skin in an office that is as peaceful and relaxing as our name, CALM, implies. Used for nearly a century, sclerotherapy is an effective varicose and spider vein treatment solution. According to our resident sclerotherapy expert, Dr. Jennifer Sawaya, “Sclerotherapy is a quick, effective treatment for spider veins on the legs.” In this blog, Dr. Sawaya answers some of the questions she frequently hears from patients.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is an outpatient medical procedure that is most often performed by board-certified dermatologists in order to remove or improve the appearance of spider veins in the legs. Dr. Sawaya says, “While we pride ourselves on offering innovative treatments, sclerotherapy has actually been in use for decades. The procedure is relatively quick, comfortable, and safe when performed by a highly skilled and experienced board-certified physician. It involves a series of injections directly into the spider veins in order to cause inflammation and eventual disappearance. Optimal results are generally seen in a series of 3 treatments, performed at least 8 weeks apart.
Who is a Good Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
The majority of patients with visible spider veins in their legs will be a good candidate for sclerotherapy. We may not recommend sclerotherapy if you are taking hormonal contraceptives, have deeper varicose veins, or if you have a personal or family history of blood clots. We will also not perform sclerotherapy on patients who are actively pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Happens Before Sclerotherapy?
According to Dr. Sawaya, “We schedule a consultation visit before recommending any treatment, but for sclerotherapy, the consultation is essential.” During your consultation, the dermatologist will determine if you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy and minimize any possible complications before we perform the treatment. If we do determine that sclerotherapy is right for you, we’ll provide you with specific preparatory instructions before you leave our office. This may include adjusting your medications and avoiding the application of lotions and other skincare products to the area on the day of treatment. In some cases, we may also recommend avoiding pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications for two or three days before your sclerotherapy treatment session.
What Happens During Treatment?
According to Dr. Sawaya, “The entire process takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. We inject a concentrated salt solution directly into the veins which irritates the blood vessel lining, causing it to collapse. Eventually, the vessel becomes scar tissue and completely disappears.” Immediately following the injection, you may notice some mild cramping for just a few minutes. This is especially likely when treating larger clusters of veins. Depending on your needs, we may be able to treat several veins in one session. The number of veins we can eliminate in a single visit depends largely on their location and size as well as your overall health.
What Happens After Sclerotherapy?
Recovery time after sclerotherapy is minimal. Dr. Sawaya says, “Shortly after we perform the procedure, we’ll have you up and walking around, so we can make sure everything looks good. You’ll need to wear professional-grade compression stockings or bandages for two to three weeks after the session to maximize the results of your treatment. For the most part, you can go back to regular activities on the same day, including driving yourself home. We do recommend avoiding strenuous activities or exercises for one to two weeks. We also encourage you to protect your legs from direct exposure to the sun’s damaging UVA/UVB rays. You should also forego swimming, saunas, and very hot showers. We’ll provide you with instructions regarding when you can begin to shower or bathe after your sclerotherapy session. You can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any discomfort, but you should avoid other anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or aspirin as these can increase bruising.
Are there Side Effects?
Sclerotherapy is a very quick, comfortable procedure with minimal downtime. For the first few weeks after treatment, you may notice some tenderness, swelling, and inflammation. Bruising and raised, red bumps at the injection site are also common.
If you experience any of the following warning signs, please call the office right away:
- Severe or prolonged inflammation around the injection site lasting more than several weeks
- The leg suddenly swelling
- You develop ulcers (open sores)
- Pain that increases or prevents comfortable movement
How Long Does it Take for Me to See Results?
Spider veins, those that are smaller, will likely be improved within 6 to 8 weeks of your initial treatment, but will likely take a series of 3 treatments on average to see optimal results.
Are My Results Permanent?
The majority of patients require more than one session to achieve their desired results. To increase your chances for success, we encourage you to carefully follow your aftercare instructions, including wearing your compression garments for at least the first week. Once your vein is closed and disappears, it will not reappear, but if you’ve already had visible spider or varicose veins, you may be more prone to develop these in the future. The good news is that most people do not develop veins as quickly as they would prior to Sclerotherapy.
How do I Get Started?
Are you interested in time-tested, effective spider vein treatment? Dr. Sawaya and the CALM team in Scottsdale would love to hear from you. Simply complete our online request form, and one of our team members will be in touch soon to answer any questions and schedule your appointment.