What Is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a procedure that has been preformed since the 1930s. You can walk in, walk out, and drive yourself home, with no downtime required.

There are no incisions or scarring, and within a few days or weeks you can watch your varicose vein fade away! The body breaks down the old vein and reabsorbs it; much like it does with a bruise.

The first step on finding out if sclerotherapy is right for you is an initial consultation with the vascular medical specialist (usually an MD, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or RN) to have a look at your varicose veins, go over your medical history and medications you regularly take, and to answer any questions. Factors ruling out sclerotherapy are pregnancy, breast feeding, less than three months after childbirth, or bedridden.

Before the Procedure

Any history of blood clots will be determined on an individual basis. Your medication will also be gone through thoroughly because there are some meds that do not go with sclerotherapy. If you take tetracycline or minocin, both antibiotics will need to be discontinued and/or another antibiotic prescribed to take its place.

If you are required to take an antibiotic before any invasive procedure such as dental procedures, colonoscopy (or any kind of surgery), make sure your vascular specialist knows all about it. It is of the utmost importance that all of your health practitioners know every medication you take, so make sure you always take your med list with you.

You wont be able to take any anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen (like Advil) for 48 hours before surgery because they could interfere with the agent you will be injected with. Tylenol is OK.

If you take prednisone you will have to ask for guidelines on how to discontinue. One other thing to remember is to not put lotion on your legs before the procedure. All thats left is to grab a pair of shorts and head out the door!

At the Clinic

Once at the office, you will don your shorts and the procedure will begin. An irritating agent (such as sodium chloride), lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and heparin (an anticoagulant) will be mixed in a syringe with a very fine needle, and directly injected
into your varicose veins.

Depending on the size and location of the veins and how you tolerate the procedure, it will take 30 to 45 minutes. Again, depending, further procedures will be scheduled. You will have been told what kind of compression hosiery to obtain, and you will put them on and go!

Side effects are mild, some bruising, brown discoloration, or little lumpy spots will fade.
If you experience inflammation within 5” of the groin, small ulcerations at an injection site, or sudden swelling of the leg, contact your physician immediately. This happens very rarely, but your doc will want you to know what to do.

So, in brief, this is an overview of sclerotherapy, one option to consider. Perhaps not for the needle-phobic, but a procedure that has been successful for many for seventy years.