What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy, literally ‘hardening therapy’, is an advanced method of varicose vein treatment at Phoenix Hospital Chelmsford that is designed to both reduce and improve the appearance of varicose veins.
A special solution called a sclerosant is injected into the vein which irritates the lining of the vessel. This irritation causes a reaction which leads the vein to swell and blood to clot within it. This blocking of blood causes it to flow via other, healthier veins.
Once a vein has been clotted it is cut off from the usual supply of nutrients and oxygen. The redundant blood vessel is then resorbed by the body and fades within a matter of weeks. For some larger or more stubborn veins it can take more than a month for the vein pattern to disappear from under the skin.
The rate at which sclerotherapy works depends a lot on your body’s own metabolism and immune response, as both are needed in the breakdown and resorption of any vein that is treated.
Who is Sclerotherapy for?
The treatment has classically been used to treat problem varicose veins, whether these be a ‘problem’ because the person finds them unsightly or because they are causing unpleasant physical sensations such as skin sensitivity or underlying pain. Our expert consultants will assess your medical needs to ensure that sclerotherapy is right for you.
As the treatment modifies and improves the efficiency of blood flow, it has been found that sclerotherapy can be useful in claudication type pictures, including aching, burning and cramps either at night or on movement.
Is Sclerotherapy Safe?
While sclerotherapy is generally considered to be a very safe procedure that does not mean that it is completely risk free.
Side effects fall into two categories, local and general.
Local side effects are temporary and to be expected due to the nature of injecting under the skin with a needle.
This can result in a small bruise, a raised redness around the injection side and in some patients increased pigmentation. These are temporary reactions that should fade within a matter of weeks if not days.
Generalised side effects include complications that are more rare but may require intervention or treatment to resolve. They include:
Blood clots: The primary function of the injection is to promote blood clots, so this is not unexpected although it is rare. Blood can clot into a lump at one end of the vessel, or potentially move down the vessel further into the limb. This will need to be drained or dissolved with medicine. If untreated the blood clot could potentially move from the deep leg (deep vein thrombosis) to the lung (pulmonary embolism).
Local inflammation: While a small amount of redness at the injection site is common, sometimes this can be more pronounced. If this happens one of our clinicians will prescribe simple pain relief like Ibuprofen to bring down the swelling.
Allergy: Introducing any foreign substance within the body always runs the risk of prompting an allergic reaction. Again, this is rare but included here for completeness.
The Sclerotherapy Procedure
Varicose or spider veins will be treated by a small injection into the corresponding vein administered by one of our specialists. After a short time the vein will swell and blood supply will be blocked.
When the needle is removed the doctor will apply some light pressure to the area and massage the vein to allow the solution to disperse fully. Multiple veins will require multiple injections.
You will be free to move around immediately after the procedure. For two weeks you will be required to wear compression stockings to assist in supporting the treated area. Most can return to work and other daily activities but you may want someone with you to drive you home.
To book an appointment with a specialist call us on 01245 801234 or email [email protected].