Sclerotherapy treatment is used for treating malformations of the vascular (blood vessel) or lymphatic systems. Sclerotherapy is used for treating malformations in young adults or children and conditions such as varicose veins, spider veins and hemorrhoids among older adults. This article is intended to give you some basic information on the way it is performed and some of its likely side effects.
Who is it for?
Most typically, people with visible varicose veins opt for this treatment. A vascular medicine specialist or a dermatologist should be consulted to see whether one is a good candidate for the treatment or not. The specialist will examine overall health as well as the area that requires the treatment. Other parameters such as a person’s history of blood clots will also be examined.
When deciding what veins will be targeted for sclerotherapy, veins that may likely be used in case of a future bypass surgery will not be considered. This is because sclerotherapy is considered a largely cosmetic procedure whereas a bypass is a life saving procedure.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding will be advised to wait to undergo the procedure. Certain conditions and medications may also preclude treatment.
Sclerotherapy treatment is also used for treating small, internal hemorrhoids (first or second degree). It targets the inflamed tissue and reduces the blood flow to the area. Hemorrhoid that are too small for rubber band ligation procedures may be treated with sclerotherapy.
How is it performed?
Sclerotherapy is not a new treatment and has been around for nearly 100 years. It is performed by injecting certain solutions into the vein or the hemorrhoid. Very fine needles are used to inject saline solutions into the blood vessels.
This causes the vein to harden and swell, making it stick together. The solution injected irritates the walls of the blood vessel and turns them into scar tissue. Over time, the scar tissue fades and disappears.
Sclerotherapy works well for most people and may be up to 80% effective. Smaller blood vessels may fade within a few weeks whereas larger veins could fade within 3 to 4 months.
Any side effects?
There could be some itching, bruising and raised skin at the site of the treatment for a while. These will fade away within a short while. If veins are larger, there are chances that they may take longer to fade and may become hard and lumpy.
At times, there could be hyper pigmentation at the site (brown spots). Possible complications could include venous thromboembolism, allergic reactions and visual disturbances.