Gold Standard Treatment for Leg Veins
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the vein that causes it to scar and collapse, forcing blood to reroute through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades. Sclerotherapy is considered the treatment of choice for spider and reticular leg veins. The treatment is minimally invasive. The procedure also can improve related symptoms such as aching, swelling, burning and night cramps. Treated veins tend to fade within a few weeks, although occasionally it may take up to two months to see the full results. In some instances, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed.
Dr. O’Connell uses Polidocanol. Polidocanol has been safely used in Europe for over 50 years and was approved in the U.S. in 2010. It is nearly painless. Other than the minor prick from the needle, Polidocanol doesn’t hurt. Polidocanol treats spider, reticular and varicose veins more successfully than hypertonic saline.
The procedure is performed in the office. It does not require anesthesia and usually takes 15 minutes to an hour to complete depending on the extent of the veins. Please wear loose fitting pants, skirt or shorts. After the treatment area is cleansed with alcohol, Dr. O’Connell uses a fine needle to slowly insert a solution into the vein. Some patients experience minor stinging or cramps when the needle is inserted. The injected solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell shut and block the flow of blood. Once the needle is withdrawn, Dr. O’Connell will apply compression and massage the area to keep blood out of the injected vessel and disperse the solution. The number of injections depends on the number and size of veins being treated.
Each area usually requires several treatments to disappear. Treatments are scheduled 2-4 weeks apart. Veins fade gradually and usually require two or more visits. The average number of visits is 3-6, but patients with many veins or veins that have been present for many years may require more sessions.
As with any treatment, there are risks associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of an expert, such as Dr. O’Connell. They include bruising, raised red areas, small skin sores or ulcers, darkened skin in the form of lines or spots and multiple tiny red blood vessels. More severe complications rarely occur, including inflammation, blood clots and an allergic reaction to the treatment solution.
You can stand up and walk around immediately after the procedure. It’s important to move your legs to prevent the formation of blood clots and maximize treatment results. Dr. O’Connell recommends walking for 15-20 minutes immediately following the treatment. Graduated compression stockings and/or bandages are worn over the treatment area for one to three weeks to maintain pressure on the treated veins. Dr. O’Connell will bandage the treatment areas prior to leaving the office, however she highly recommends bringing compression stockings to the appointment or have them readily available to be applied after the treatment. Most people can return to normal activities immediately following the procedure. You should avoid sun exposure, swimming or shaving in the treatment area for one-two weeks following the procedure. If an allergic reaction develops, you should call the office.