Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to eliminate
varicose veins and spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves
an injection of a solution (generally a salt solution)
directly into the vein. The solution irritates the
lining of the blood vessel, causing it to swell and
stick together, and the blood to clot. Over time, the
vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.
Sclerotherapy is a well-proven procedure and has been in
use since the 1930s.
Sclerotherapy Is Done
In most cases, the salt solution is injected through a
very fine needle directly into the vein. At this point,
you may experience mild discomfort and cramping for one
to two minutes, especially when larger veins are
injected. The procedure itself takes approximately 15 to
of veins injected in one session varies, and depends on
the size and location of the veins, as well as the
general medical condition of the patient.
Sclerotherapy is performed in the doctor's office by a
dermatologist or a surgeon and requires that you do not
partake in any aerobic activity for a few days after the
What to Do
Prior to vein injection, you should avoid certain
medications. Talk to your doctor about all medicines
(including over the counter drugs, herbs, and dietary
supplements) you are taking. If you need to take an
antibiotic before sclerotherapy, contact your physician.
No lotion should be applied to the legs before the
Some physicians recommend avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen
(i.e. Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin) or other
anti-inflammatory medications for 48-72 hours before
sclerotherapy. Tylenol, however, should not affect this
Effects of Sclerotherapy
You may experience certain side effects after
sclerotherapy. There are milder effects, such as
itching, which can last for one or two days after the
procedure. Also, you may experience raised, red areas at
the injection site. These should disappear within a few
days. Bruising may also occur around the injection side
and can last several days or weeks.
Other sclerotherapy side effects include:
• Larger veins that have been injected may become lumpy
and hard and may require several months to dissolve and
• Brown lines or spots may appear at the vein site. In
most cases, they disappear within three to six months.
• Neovascularization -- the development of new, tiny
blood vessels -- may occur at the site of sclerotherapy
treatment. These tiny veins can appear days or weeks
after the procedure, but should fade within three to
twelve months without further treatment.
Should any of the following side effects occur, contact
your physician immediately. These include: