Sclerotherapy FAQs

Not for Every Vein, Not for Everyone

Veins are categorized as small, medium or large. In general, veins appropriate for sclerotherapy are either small or medium. Spider veins, the small red or purple veins on the skin surface, are the most common types treated by sclerotherapy. With the use of new techniques (foam) and new solutions (recently FDA approved) medium sized veins also may be treated with sclerotherapy. Not every vein can be treated: larger, bulging varicose are treated with other technologies and techniques.

How does sclerotherapy work?

A very small needle is placed into the vein and medicine is injected. This medicine causes a low grade inflammation of the vein. As the vein recovers from this reaction, it scars and shrinks, sealing the vein so no blood remains. The vein then fades over time.

What solution is used?

In general, solutions include detergents, salts, and sugars, all of which have been used on thousands of patients. Depending on the size and location of the veins, different types and strengths of sclerosants are used. These solutions are extremely safe and cause very few complications in a vein specialist's hands.

How is the type of solution chosen?

Vein size, location, and physician experience best determine which solution should be used. Your treating physician should be familiar with several and be able to appropriately treat all types of veins.

How and where are treatments done?

All treatments are done in our office and take 15-30 minutes. Patients can walk immediately after the procedure. At the end of the procedure some type of compression is usually applied. These are worn from days to weeks depending on each physician's preference.

What type of results can I expect?

Sclerotherapy does not yield perfect results, but most veins will lighten and/or disappear. Most patients report a 70%-75% improvement in appearance.

How long does it take to see results?

Since sclerotherapy is a chemical reaction, results take at least six to eight weeks and can take up to six months. Progress will be checked at regular intervals after treatment at the center.

Are results usually permanent?

Improvement usually lasts long-term in the majority of cases. However, new areas of veins can develop over time. Sclerotherapy does not prevent new veins from appearing in other areas. Occasionally, areas may need re-treatment or "touch-up."

What complications can occur after sclerotherapy?

Complications after sclerotherapy are very rare. Pigmentation (darkening) of the skin overlying the treated veins is the most common complication, occurring in about 1% of patients. This usually fades on its own over time and may be helped by laser therapy. Other complications may include include inadvertent intra-arterial injection, skin ulceration, telangiectatic matting (blush spots), superficial inflammation, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), and allergic reaction. Our center is well prepared to treat any complications that may arise.

Will I be happy with sclerotherapy?

It is reasonable to expect significant improvement after sclerotherapy, but not absolute perfection. Most patients feel they look 70%-75% better. Patients should understand the limitations of the procedure and make an informed decision with the help of physicians at the center.

Are treatments covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic procedures. Most veins treated by sclerotherapy are not the cause of patient symptoms. At times, treatment for complications such as bleeding may be covered. In the U.S., treatment session costs range from $300-$500.

What about laser or microwave surgery for my veins?

Ninety percent of small veins are best treated by sclerotherapy. Smaller ones may better respond to laser or microwave treatments.

Why choose the Vascular Surgery Vein Program?

Our patients benefit from the experience and expertise of our vein specialists, who are among the first in the United States to perform the most minimally invasive techniques. At the Vascular Surgery Vein Program we continue to be among the first in the country to evaluate and perform any new technology. Our patients get the latest techniques first.

In fact, our training sessions draw vascular surgeons from all parts of the United States and abroad who come to learn our cutting-edge techniques. In addition, our leadership position in this field has already made it possible for our patients to benefit from early clinical trials of many new vein procedures. You are not only treated here, you are treated by the experts who teach others.