Sclerotherapy – foam sclerotherapy – what is sclerotherapy?

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What is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is derived from a Greek word that means ‘hardening’ is a kind of therapy that is used for treating varicose veins. In adults, when the veins present in the legs become twisted and swollen, such veins are referred to as varicose veins. When you wear shorts, it can be easily seen. They are also called ‘spider veins’. Sclerotherapy is done by injecting a chemical agent called sclerosing into the vein. The injection causes the veins to inflame and as a result, of it, scars are formed in the vein. The flow of blood is directed towards the healthier veins after closing the varicose vein.

During the treatment, the patient will experience mild pain for a minute or two. The treatment only lasts for 30 to 45 minutes. Some doctors make use of ultrasound sclerotherapy which requires usage of ultrasound technology to administer the solution precisely. Such kind of treatment will incur more sclerotherapy cost. When a person suffers from varicose veins, it should not be neglected and should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure which is used to remove the varicose veins. Varicose veins are swollen twisted bluish or purple colored veins that are bulging out from the skin and sometimes there can be discomfort or pain in these veins. The sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution directly in these veins. Due to the reaction of these injections, there is an inflammation reaction and this will lead to the walls of the veins to stay together which seems like the varicose veins shrink immediately. This also leads to fading and eventually then the disappearance of the veins.

Sometimes if there is a disease found in these veins then you might have to go through several treatments. There are also some spider veins which are treated effectively with the sclerotherapy treatment.

Foam Sclerotherapy

Foam Sclerotherapy is the new method which is used to treat large varicose veins as well as spider veins. There is a liquid sclerosing agent, which is mixed with the room air due to which foam is created and then this foam is injected into the affected varicose vein. The purpose of using this foam injection instead of the liquid injection is that foam covers the larger surface area.

Foam Sclerotherapy is used with the ultrasound imaging which shows up well and it becomes easier to track the foam and guide it to the affected area.

Possible Side Effects of Sclerotherapy and Foam Sclerotherapy

The simple Sclerotherapy side effects include bruising, lumps and burning sensation in the treated areas however it is only for few minutes and there are few precautionary measures to avoid these side effects. While the foam sclerotherapy includes some common allergies however there are also few people who are against it that through the foam, carbon dioxide is introduced in the body.

Other side effects are slight pains of the needle and bruises on the body which are common in both simple sclerotherapy and foam Sclerotherapy as in both treatments; the needles are inserted in the body.

Sclerotherapy Advantages

There are plenty of advantages of Sclerotherapy; few of these are given as under:

  • The first and foremost advantage is that it is a relatively inexpensive procedure than other surgical procedures.
  • The results of this treatment are relatively faster as it takes almost a week for the varicose veins to disappear.
  • It treats the hemorrhoids at once rather than other procedures.
  • For the elderly and aged people who have very sensitive veins and delicate blood vessels mostly refrain from surgical treatments and for them this Sclerotherapy is ideal for elderly patients as it does not require any sort of surgery.

According to a lot of doctors who treat varicose veins says that foam Sclerotherapy is the best treatment available for this condition. It is far more effective and gives better results than liquid Sclerotherapy and also to the patients whose veins do not respond to the liquid Sclerotherapy.

How Do I Know Whether I Should Go For Sclerotherapy?

Before you undergo sclerotherapy, you need seek advice from with a vascular medicine specialist. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not advisable to undergo this treatment. Only after three months of the birth of the baby, you may go with the treatment. If you are on contraceptive pills, you can do this treatment. If there has been a blood clot in the past, your eligibility for sclerotherapy will depend on the severity of the blood clot and can be only decided by the specialist.

How is Sclerotherapy Performed?

Usually, in outpatient treatment, the patient asked to wear a pair of shorts at the sclerotherapy clinic. He will be then asked to lie down on the examination down. The affected area will be cleaned by using an antiseptic and the sclerosing agent will be injected into the varicose veins. First, it is injected in the larger veins and then in the smaller veins of the leg. Every inch of varicose veins requires an injection. Accordingly, 35 to 40 separate injections are required depending on the size of the affected veins. This treatment does not require administration of anesthesia which means it is not a painful procedure although you might experience a mild sting or burning sensation.

An alternative type of sclerosing agent which is in liquid form is an agent in the form of a foam. Some doctors prefer usage of foam agent over liquid sclerosing agent as it is known to produce enhanced contact with the lining of the vein. Only a small quantity of this agent is required for this treatment and its progress can be easily checked through an ultrasound screen. The sclerotherapy cost with foam agent incurs less cost and has higher success rate and the chances of complications are also very less.

After the varicose vein is injected with the treating agent, the affected area is then covered by using a pad and tape. After completing the first sclerotherapy session, the doctor may advise the patient to stay at the clinic for half an hour so that the affected area does not react adversely to an administered agent. Each sclerotherapy sessions only lasts for around 20 to 50 minutes. It is normal for the doctor to call the patient for a second session to fully get rid of spider veins. It is also required to keep a gap of three to six weeks between each session.

How You Should Prepare For Sclerotherapy

The doctor will perform a diagnosis to check whether a patient is only suffering from spider veins or any other serious venous disorder such as spider nevi, large varicose veins, etc. After learning about the medical history of the patient, the sclerotherapy specialist will inspect the areas below the waist to determine the areas with spider veins. The patient will be asked to turn slowly so that the doctor can see visible varicose veins symptoms such as scars, swelling, discolored skin, warmth, and so on. After palpating gently when the doctor learns that the condition is varicose veins, he will suggest the patient to undergo scleropathy to put an end to spider veins.

As mentioned before, women who are pregnant and breast-feed will have to postpone sclerotherapy after the birth of the bay at least for three months or until the weaning period is complete as there is a possibility that the sclerotherapy agent can have an effect on mother’s milk. People who suffer from diabetes or diseases that are transmitted through blood like AIDS or circulatory problems are recommended to avoid the treatment.

The patient will be advised to discontinue the intake of painkillers a week for undergoing sclerotherapy. For examination purpose, the patient is required to bring along a pair of shorts and also a comfortable pair of long pant or skirt so that the area can be covered after treatment. To understand the effectiveness of the Varicose veins treatment, the doctor may take some snaps of the varicose veins before any treatment is initiated. These snaps can also be produced to the insurance companies that ask for pretreatment photos to do documentation.

The Whole Procedure of Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a procedure which is used to eliminate the varicose veins also known as spider veins. If you want to go for this procedure you will have to go for the initial consultation with the sclerotherapy specialist who will advise you whether you are eligible for sclerotherapy or not

Women who are pregnant and bedridden should not go for this procedure. Also, the people who had a blood clot in the past will have to consult their doctor prior to this procedure.

Veins that may require help in the heart bypass procedures are also not considered for sclerotherapy process.

Through a very fine needle, a sclerosing solution is injected into the veins. At the time of injection, the patient has undergone some sort of discomfort and even cramping for about one to two minutes and even more if the vein is larger. The whole procedure takes around 15-30 minutes depending on the number of veins.

The number of injections and the sessions may vary on the size as well as the location of the veins. The general medical condition of the patient is also considered.

Usually, before the sclerotherapy, the doctor advises avoiding some kind of medicines like tetracycline which is an antibiotic. This medicine should be avoided at least 7 to 10 days before the sclerotherapy.

Also, some physicians recommend taking ibuprofen, aspirin or other inflammatory medicines as it minimizes the bruising.

Before you come for the procedure, it is recommended to wear shorts and to avoid any sort of cream and lotion on the legs especially on the areas which are to be injected.

There are some side effects of sclerotherapy like itching which may last for one to two days after the procedure is performed. Also, the skin may get a little raised on the injected area as well as there may be some red areas which will disappear in a few days. Sometimes bruising may occur as well but it is also temporary.

There are few things that you should avoid for almost 2 days after the treatment; few of these things are as under:

  • Direct exposure to sunlight
  • Hot compressors
  • Hot baths
  • Saunas or whirlpools

You can take the shower but it is recommended to bath with lukewarm water and the areas where the treatment has been performed should be washed with mild soap ad tepid water.

According to the studies and sclerotherapy sessions, almost 50 to 80 percent of the injected veins may get eliminated. There is almost less than 10 percent of people who do not respond to the injections at all.

The spider veins usually respond in three to six weeks while the larger veins will respond in three to four months. Some patients have found that these varicose veins do not reappear while some patients have found that these veins reappear and they have to get the injections again.

If the varicose veins are causing chronic pain and swelling then there are some insurance companies who will cover the treatment but if you are pursuing the treatment for cosmetic purposes then there is the most likely that the insurance company will not cover it. Your insurance company may request for a letter from your doctor regarding the nature of your treatment for covering the insurance.

What Should Be Done After Sclerotherapy?


After the treatment, the patient should not wear tight pants or slacks but should wear loose clothes for at least four weeks. This will greatly help in reducing swelling and pain. The treated area will be covered with pad and tape. This covering should not be removed for at least two days after the treatment.

To prevent the blood from clotting, the patient will be advised to do some low-impact exercises such as walking, bicycling. The patient will also be advised to not do any high-impact exercises like jogging as it can worsen the affected area. Sitting and standing for a long time should be avoided.

The major side-effect of sclerotherapy is the appearance of new varicose veins after the treatment is done. The occurrence of a mesh of new varicose veins (telangiectatic matting) can happen at the area that was treated. It can take around six to twelve months after sclerotherapy for the condition to completely vanish.

Some of the other side-effects include:

  • Development of blood clots in the veins. This condition is known as venous thrombosis.
  • Uncontrollable pain that can last up to a week after the treatment.
  • Development of allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent or foam.
  • The appearance of scars that last for a long time.
  • Numbness because of injury to the nerves in the area where sclerotherapy was done.
  • Change of skin color or appearance of brown spots in the treated area. This condition will disappear on its own after some months.
  • The reactive spams present in the blood, usage of a very powerful dose of the sclerosing agent, or improper way of administration of treatment can result in ulceration of the skin.
  • Abnormal development of hair in the treated area can last up to quite sometime after the treatment is done. This condition is known as Hirsutism. It will disappear own after some time.
Michael Richardson

Michael Richardson

I am a nutritionist and healthcare practitioner with over 10 years of experience. I am a medical article writer, blog writer. My passion is to help people. My favorite quote is:  “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

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