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Sclerotherapy is a cosmetic technique employed to reduce the appearance of spider veins. Spider veins are clusters of thin red, blue, or purple colored veins resembling spider legs that appear on the thighs, calves, ankles, and sometimes the face. It is estimated that approximately half of all adult women are affected by spider veins. Not only are spider veins aesthetically displeasing, they can also cause physical discomfort including pain, swelling, burning, and night cramps. For patients who suffer from spider veins, sclerotherapy can be an excellent way to diminish the appearance of these bothersome and painful veins.
Aging, genetics, pregnancy, hormone changes, long periods of sitting or standing, and some medications are all factors which contribute to the development of spider veins. Spider veins, medically termed telangiectasias or sunburst varicosities, can vary in size and skin depth. Most spider veins can be successfully treated with sclerotherapy, though larger troublesome veins (like varicose veins) may not be treated with sclerotherapy.
Good candidates for a sclerotherapy procedure are adult women who are not currently breast feeding or pregnant. Men may also benefit from sclerotherapy, though they do not tend to develop spider veins with the same frequency as women. Patients with certain medical conditions, like AIDS, hepatitis, heart conditions, circulation problems, and diabetes, may not be good candidates for sclerotherapy. Any patient considering sclerotherapy should discuss the procedure with a qualified cosmetic surgeon to learn what to expect during the procedure and the recovery period and to learn of the risks and benefits of sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a sclerosing agent into the spider veins of the lower extremities. In the presence of this sclerotherapy solution, the veins collapse and fade from view. During the procedure planning, the surgeon will map out the vein condition using a hand-held ultra sound machine. This instrument allows the cosmetic surgeon to detect any backflow in the venous system. The sclerotherapy procedure itself takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes during which time between 5 and 40 injections are administered to the affected areas. During sclerotherapy a patient can be fully awake due to the low level of discomfort associated with this technique.
Once the sclerotherapy technique is complete, the patient's legs will be wrapped in compression garments to facilitate proper healing and maximize effectiveness of the procedure. Patients are encouraged to walk around following sclerotherapy and should expect some leg cramping in the first few days. Spider veins may look worse temporarily after sclerotherapy before they get better. After one month, a patient may benefit from another sclerotherapy treatment session. After a few treatments the desired results are often achieved.
Sclerotherapy is a safe, effective, non-invasive procedure that can greatly diminish the appearance of spider veins. If you would like to learn more about sclerotherapy, please contact us to speak with an experienced board-certified cosmetic surgeon in your area.