Vein Sclerotherapy: Safe or Dangerous?
Vein Sclerotherapy is a relatively safe treatment for vein issues, as it has very few possible complications or side effects. Sclerotherapy is a newer procedure that is used to treat varicose and spider veins. The appearance of these veins is caused when the valves of the veins weaken, causing the blood to back up or pool within the veins.
Spider veins are generally those tiny thread like veins. Often the veins branch out from a center vein giving them a “spider-like” appearance. These veins are just below the skin’s surface, usually appearing on the hands, face, or legs. Spider veins can be red or blue or purple. Varicose veins are larger and usually occur on the legs. Varicose veins often have a raised, ropey appearance and are bluish or purple in color.
During the sclerotherapy procedure, which usually takes about 15 to 40 minutes, the vein is injected with a sclerosant solution. This solution essentially “irritates” the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and close. The vein turns into scar tissue, which then fades away.
Complications or Side Effects
There are a few complications or side effects associated with sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a safe procedure, but it is a real medical procedure and should not be trivialized or done in a spa or salon. Because of the possibility of side effects, Sclerotherapy should be done either by a physician experienced in sclerotherapy or by experienced nurses working under the direct supervision of experienced physicians. Some side effects of sclerotherapy include:
• Raised red areas
• Tiny sores
• Darkened skin
• Appearance of new tiny red vessels
These minor side effects will usually dissipate within a few days or a few weeks. Other less common side effects can occur that may require treatment, including:
• Trapped blood — There can be blood trapped in the treated vein. This can cause mild pain and irritation and may require draining.
• In rare cases, blood clots or deep vein thrombosis can occur in the deeper veins, requiring immediate medical attention.
• Inflammation — This may appear at the injection site, is generally mild and is usually treated with aspirin.
• If the sclerosant is foamed or mixed with air, which is used to treat very large varicose veins — The air bubbles may go beyond the treated vein. While they usually don’t cause any problems or symptoms, visual problems, headaches, and nausea may occur. These symptoms will disappear after a short time; however, if limb movement or sensation is affected, a physician should be contacted.
• Allergic reaction — This is usually caused by an allergic reaction to the local anesthetic (lidocaine and epinephrine) used. It is very uncommon.
St. Louis Laser Vein Center
While there is some risk associated with sclerotherapy, the medical conditions that can arise if vein disease is left untreated can be far more serious. Dr. Wright and his staff at St. Louis Laser Vein Center urge anyone concerned about vein issues to schedule a medical evaluation to determine the level of vein disease you may be experiencing. We understand how important it is to catch and treat vein disease as early as possible.