Sclerotherapy: The Treatment of Choice for Spider Veins
Sclerotherapy is a hemorrhoid and varicose veins treatment for older adults. It is
also used to correct blood vessel malformations in children and young adults.
Varicose veins can be ugly, and can make us reluctant to show our legs. They can also become very painful.
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Sclerotherapy is one of the oldest therapies still in use today. Doctors began
injecting a combination of iodine and tannin in 1854. This effectively cured varicose veins
in at least 16 cases.
Due to the adverse side effects caused by the injections, the therapy was abandoned in favor of venous
stripping. Stripping can cause severe scarring. In hopes of reducing scarring, doctors
continued to experiment with different injections as the years went by.
Sclerotherapy works by causing the vein to shrink immediately. Over the course of several weeks, the vein
is naturally absorbed by the body leaving no scars. Better anesthetics and vein-shrinking drugs are now
The therapy is considered the method of choice for treating large spider veins and longer
thread veins. It is preferable to laser treatments, because the injected solutions close the
feeders that cause the spider veins to appear. Laser treatments are ineffective for that purpose.
Advancements in technology have continued to improve the effectiveness and reduce the unwanted side
effects. Ultrasound is now used to map the area to be treated. Ultrasound is also used during follow-up
visits to verify the success of the treatment.
Foaming drugs have been developed to increase the surface area and improve results. The foaming drugs
replace the blood in the vessels rather than mixing with it, which allows them to remain active for a longer period
This form of treatment is referred to as foaming sclerotherapy. It is usually recommended
for longer or larger spider veins or longer thread veins.
Complications of this therapy are rare. When they occur, it usually has to do with clots forming elsewhere
in the body. So, it is important that a person be in good physical health before therapy begins.
Some of the complications that have occurred in the past include visual disturbances, changes in skin color and
death of the skin covering the vein. The skin death or necrosis occurs when the drugs are
injected outside of the vein.
Scarring and tissue death, as well as necrosis, can occur. So, it is also important to choose a
practitioner familiar with this form of varicose veins treatment. There might still be a
small risk of injury. But there is always a small risk of negative side effects with any surgical
Sclerotherapy is generally recognized as safe and is fully FDA approved.
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