What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a popular, effective and safe method for treatment of varicose veins and vascular “stars”. It is based on intravenous injection of a special medicine preparation (sclerosant), which, under certain conditions, “fills” the affected vein making it to disappear completely with time. Sclerotherapy ensures good therapeutic and cosmetic results for a long time, in some cases for life. At only 25 per cent of patients (advanced or neglected cases), sclerotherapy does not guarantee complete healing. Meanwhile, even in such cases the disease manifestations are significantly reduced.
How many procedures?
During one procedure (course) of sclerotherapy, doctor makes 3 to 10 injections. The whole number will depend on particularities of affected veins, as well as on the sort of sclerosant. From 1 to 5 courses (typically 2 or 3) are needed depending on the case.
- If you take hormonal preparations (contraceptives, oestrogens or other), it is obligatory to let your doctor know this.
- Stop taking aspirine, ibuprofen, trental and other antiinflammatory drugs two days before treatment. These preparations tend to increase bleeding in tissues, what leads to bruises.
- Avoid smoking and taking alcohol 2 days before and after sclerotherapy.
On the eve of sclerotherapy:
- do not make any epilation, use no lotions or creams;
- take a hygienic shower and wash your legs with normal or antibacterial soap;
- come to the treatment in comfortable, loose clothes and footwear;
- it is advisable to have a light meal 1.5 hours before the sclerotherapy procedure.
Sclerotherapy is a painless healing procedure. The instruments are special thin needles or microcatheters (thin tubes provided with needles thinner than human hair). Today's sclerosants are perfectly safe and provide anesthetic action, which makes the introduction but slightly burning. If any unpleasant sensations appear during the treatment (pain, nausea, dizziness, etc.), you have to inform your doctor immediately. At the end of sclerotherapy a special elastic bandage or a compression stocking will be put on your leg; you must wear it for twenty-four hours a day and not take it off without your doctor’s permission.
- a quiet walk for 10 to 30 minutes is necessary;
- remember that the sclerosant contains spirit, so keep yourself from car driving after the procedure;
- do not cut down your physical activity; everyday walk for at least 1 hour is highly recommended;
- avoid long-time sitting or standing;
- exclude hot baths for 2 weeks; saunas and the like are contra-indicated for some 1.5 or 2 month;
- do not practice aerobics, gymnastics or training bicycle during first 3 days after sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy does not guarantee an absolute healing for life and further repetition of the treatment may be needed. The best precaution against possible relapse would be regular using of special prophylactic or therapeutic pantyhose.
What may be side effects?
- The skin itches depend on the sclerosant composition and usually fade away in 1 or 2 hours after the procedure. In rare cases, they may reappear episodically during 24 hours or more.
- A temporary darkening of the skin along the vein sclerosed occurs at 5 to 8 per cent of patients. Light brown strips on the skin may last sometime up to 1 year.
- The skin desquamation is observed in less than 1 per cent of cases. At the place of injection, a small surface wound is formed that closes up in 2 to 4 weeks without leaving a trace.
- Allergic reactions are rare. The risk level is heightened at patients who are allergic to other medicaments.
- Pain at injection points or along the sclerosed vein occurs in rare cases. An injection-located nagging pain is usually related to a physical activity and may last for 3 to 9 days.
- In rare cases, a thin reddish “net” of vessels along the vein sclerosed may appear in 2 or 4 weeks after the treatment; it usually passes by its own in 4 to 6 months.
- A short time oedema may appear around ankle during the treatment of varicosity or vascular “stars” in this region; tight, narrow or high-heeled footwear would aggravate the oedema.
- Vein inflammation, or trombophlebitis, is a rare complication of sclerotherapy (1 of 1000 patients). It may be due to a braking of the doctor’s prescription or to uncontrolled taking off the elastic bandage.