Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive, almost painless procedure that is proven to remove unsightly spider veins from the legs and other areas of the body. Anesthesia is not required and the procedure is usually performed in your doctor's office or other outpatient setting. Depending on the extent of the procedure, a Sclerotherapy session normally takes about 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete.
Removing unsightly spider veins can dramatically improve the appearance of your skin and provide a boost to your self-esteem. The skin on your legs or other area of the body will appear more youthful, healthy and evenly-colored. You will probably feel much more comfortable wearing shorts, swimwear and other clothing that exposes the legs.
The best candidates for Sclerotherapy are people who are in good health and want to enhance the appearance of their legs, face or any other body area on which spider veins are present. Spider veins are more common in women, but Sclerotherapy is also an effective treatment for men.
Generally, the best candidates for Sclerotherapy:
- Want to improve the appearance of their legs, face or other area of the body by removing unsightly spider veins.
- Are in good health, both physically and mentally.
- Are well-informed about treatment options and have realistic expectations.
Women who are pregnant, have recently been pregnant or are breastfeeding may be advised to postpone Sclerotherapy. Spider veins that develop during pregnancy usually go away on their own within 3 months after delivery.
You may be advised against the procedure if you have a blood-borne disease, any condition that affects the circulatory system, a heart condition or diabetes.
Complications from Sclerotherapy are very rare when the procedure is performed by a qualified physician. To minimize your risk, remember to follow all of your doctor's instructions both before and after the procedure. Contact your doctor's office immediately if you experience any symptoms you believe may indicate a complication.
The most common risks associated with spider vein treatment (Sclerotherapy) include:
- Blood clots
- Vein inflammation
- Allergic reaction to the sclerosing solution
- Minor injury to the skin
- Telangiectatic matting — occurs when a new network of fine blood vessels appears near the area of treated skin. Sclerotherapy can also be used to treat these new veins.
Sclerotherapy is very effective in removing existing spider veins. However, the procedure does not prevent new spider veins from appearing, and you may need to be treated for new spider veins in the future.
The national average surgeon/physician fee for Sclerotherapy in 2020 was $413, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This figure does not include other costs, such as anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses. You should be provided with complete information on costs and financing options at the initial consultation with your doctor.
The total fee for Sclerotherapy can vary depending on the region of the country, the extent of the procedure and your specific needs as a patient. As it is considered to be a cosmetic procedure, the cost of Sclerotherapy is usually not covered by health insurance.
If you decide to seek removal of spider veins from the legs or elsewhere on the body, the first step is to locate a qualified physician and schedule a consultation. During this meeting, you will be examined by the doctor and discuss your options in detail. Depending on the specifics of your situation, the physician may recommend Sclerotherapy, another treatment option such as laser vein therapy, or a combination of both.
The consultation will begin with a physical examination, during which the doctor will note various characteristics such as the location and size of the spider veins. You will also be examined for swelling, changes in the skin or any other signs that could indicate more serious problems within the circulatory system. Be sure to tell the doctor about any symptoms you are experiencing, such as aches, pain, itching or swelling. The doctor will take a complete medical history, including past surgeries, existing conditions and medications that you currently take.
Ask the doctor about anything you don't understand about Sclerotherapy. He or she should give you all the details of the procedure, including the benefits, risks, costs, recovery time and number of treatments to be expected. Be sure to ask to see before and after photos of the surgeon's recent Sclerotherapy patients.
As the consultation concludes, you may wish to schedule your procedure, take some time to think, seek a second opinion or schedule a consultation with a vein specialist if underlying problems are found. If you decide to proceed with the procedure, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for Sclerotherapy.
How Sclerotherapy is Performed
During the procedure, you will lie down and the skin over the spider veins cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The doctor then uses a tiny needle to inject a mild sclerosing solution into the affected veins, administering an injection for approximately each inch of vein. The sclerosing solution causes the spider veins to seal, stopping the flow of blood and turning the veins into scar tissue.
Cotton balls held in place with compression tape are usually applied as a dressing to each area of skin treated. Though you may feel slight needle sticks and a burning sensation as the sclerosing solution is injected, pain experienced during Sclerotherapy is usually minimal.
As many as three to four Sclerotherapy sessions may be required, at monthly intervals, to achieve the best results. After each treatment, the spider veins appear lighter and the quality of the skin continues to improve.
After a Sclerotherapy procedure, you will be instructed to wear a compression wrap for several days and keep the skin dry in the area of the injections. Your doctor may also prescribe support hose for up to several weeks to keep the treated veins flattened and reduce the risk of developing blood clots. Any cramping or itching that you experience at the injection sites usually subsides quickly.
You may notice bruising and discoloration of the skin at the treated area after the compression wrap is removed. Swelling may occur if the injections are made around the ankles. Bruising usually fades after a few days, while brownish patches on the skin, or pigmentation irregularity, may take several weeks to disappear.
Most patients can resume normal activities immediately following Sclerotherapy. Your doctor may recommend regular walking to increase circulation, prevent blood clots from forming and promote healing. However, you should avoid jogging, prolonged standing or sitting, lifting weights or other activities that put pressure on the treated area for several days. The treated skin should be protected from exposure to the sun for a full year.