How long does a sclerotherapy treatment session last?

If this is your first treatment, your doctor may observe your response to a small dose prior to additional doses. This observation may take up to several hours depending upon the physician's discretion. Subsequent appointments should take less time. Most individuals have multiple spider veins or small varicose veins that need treatment, and only 10 to 20 injections can be done during each session, so the length of each session and the number of sessions is determined by the amount of work to be done. Sclerotherapy is a process, not a one-time treatment, so most patients require two or three sessions at weekly intervals. [Back to top]

Does health insurance cover sclerotherapy?

When sclerotherapy is performed for purely cosmetic reasons, the cost of the treatment is generally not covered by medical insurance. If sclerotherapy is performed to alleviate physical symptoms of varicose or spider veins, it may be covered. Check with your insurer to determine eligibility. [Back to top]

What happens after a sclerotherapy treatment?

Once a sclerotherapy treatment session is completed, the injection sites are covered with sterile dressings and the entire area is wrapped in an elastic bandage, which is left in place for two to three days to minimize bruising and swelling. The legs should also be elevated for two to four hours after the procedure. Your physician may recommend the use of compression stockings to help minimize bruising and swelling. Some mild pain is to be expected so your doctor may advise treatment with an analgesic. Other side effects, including pain, hives, or ulcers (sores), may occur at the site of injection. A permanent discoloration may remain along the path of the treated vein. Allergic reactions such as hives, asthma, hayfever, and serious breathing difficulties (anaphylactic shock) have been reported. Blood clots, including ones that travel to your lungs, have been reported. Other side effects reported include headache, nausea and vomiting. Patients can usually resume normal activities after two days. A follow-up visit with the doctor is often scheduled within a few days of the procedure. Improvements are noticeable after two to three weeks and optimal improvements within six months. The foregoing may vary considerably depending on the sclerosing agent used, the nature of the therapy provided and the patient's particular circumstances. Please see additional important safety information below. [Back to top]

Is there any preparation required before sclerotherapy?

It is recommended that patients refrain from smoking and taking aspirin for a few days prior to their sclerotherapy procedures. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have, and medications you are taking. Otherwise, no extensive preparation is generally required. [Back to top]

Can anyone undergo sclerotherapy?

There are a few exceptions to those who can undergo sclerotherapy for their varicose veins or spider veins. Among these exceptions are women who are pregnant or nursing should not undergo sclerotherapy. Likewise, people with a history of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), previous allergic reactions to sclerotherapy, allergic conditions or asthma, varicose veins caused by a tumor, inflammatory diseases of veins, cancer, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, respiratory diseases, skin infections, circulatory disorders, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis or other diseases or infections carried in the blood, or individuals undergoing anticoagulant (blood thinning) therapy or taking corticosteroids, are not candidates for sclerotherapy. Persons who must spend most or all of their time in bed should not undergo sclerotherapy. Some medications may increase the risk for complications, so tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking. In addition, there may be other factors that affect the outcome of the procedure, so be sure to discuss your situation with your doctor. [Back to top]

How is sclerotherapy performed?

Sclerotherapy uses a fine, thin needle to inject a chemical irritant, or sclerosing agent, into the affected varicose or spider veins. The sclerosing agent collapses the vein, causing it to form scar tissue and become less visible. [Back to top]

Who performs sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy should only be administered by a physician experienced in venous anatomy and the diagnosis and treatment of venous conditions, and who is familiar with proper injection techniques, as needle placement and dosage at each injection site are important. Physicians experienced in such therapy may be found among the following specialties, but are not limited to: phlebologists, interventional radiologists, vascular surgeons, general surgeons, cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists. [Back to top]