Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical treatment for removing thread veins from the legs. Thread veins (or spider veins and varicose veins) are the tiny red or blue vessels that run close to the surface of the skin, particularly on the legs and are most commonly found on the thighs, around the knees, on the calves and around the ankles.

They can arrive without warning and their presence can be attributed to various factors such as lifestyle, diet, excessive exposure to sun and hereditary factors, but the actual cause is not known. Most people develop thread veins as they age. Though they affect males and females, they are more commonly found in women.The Sclerotherapy treatment process involves injecting a solution into the vein using a very fine needle. This will eventually cause the vein to collapse and then in turn fade away. Smaller thread veins are easier to treat; therefore it is better to have Sclerotherapy treatment at its early stages. The treatment can help reduce the appearance of veins and also ease the dull throbbing often associated with thread veins.

The number of treatments required depends entirely on the patient, the conditions severity and the area to be treated. A cosmetic doctor will always advise you on this before beginning the process. Typically side effects are minor, and confined to the area which has been treated, these can include small-inflamed patches that may be visible which will subside within a few days. There may also be some skin discolouration but this will fade away gradually over a few months.

After treatment you will typically be required to wear a support stocking or some other kind of pressure garment. This is normally required for about a week, and can compromise the effectiveness of the treatment if not worn. You will be able, and encouraged, to walk as usual, as this help circulation and the removal of the leg veins into the bloodstream, though strenuous exercise should be avoided whilst wearing the support garment.

Leg Veins

Dilated blood vessels, also called varicose or spider veins, have a red or blue or purple colour and appear on the surface of the body, particularly the legs. On the face and upper body their character is slightly different to those on the lower body, as are their causes. These vessels can be unsightly and can produce a dull aching of the legs after prolonged standing. If their presence is distressing, they can be treated by injection of a solution that will cause them to disappear, or at least become much smaller.

What causes these blood vessels to become visible?

The cause is not known, except that in many cases they seem to run in families. Surface veins occur in both men and women, but much more frequently in women. The hormone oestrogen may play a role in their development. They may also occur after a blow to a certain area of the body or as a result of wearing tight girdles or hosiery held up by tight bands.

Can they be prevented?

There is no proven method of prevention. Wearing support stockings may prevent some dilated blood vessels from developing in some people. Maintaining a normal weight and regular exercise may also be helpful. Avoid wearing high heeled shoes as these affect the proper functioning of the larger veins, and avoid prolonged standing.

What is Sclerotherapy?

In the majority of cases, a procedure called sclerotherapy is used to treat these blood vessels, in which a solution called a sclerosant is injected, using a very fine needle, directly into the blood vessel. This procedure has been used in various forms for veins since the 1920s but has only been associated with an acceptably low side effect rate in the more recent past.

How does Sclerotherapy work?

The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. Some vessels will fade from view, eventually becoming barely or not at all visible. A few vessels will need a second treatment, and a few will not be accessible for injection at any given treatment session because they will have been covered by the tape used to pressurise other veins treated during that session. Depending on its size, a single blood vessel may have to be injected more than once, but in any one treatment session a number of vessels may be injected.

What are the side effects?

Most of the side effects are minor, and confined to the area which has been treated. Your doctor will give you a more detailed explanation of all possible side effects before the commencement of your treatment.

Will the veins reoccur?

The veins treated adequately by sclerotherapy will not recur, unless they are extremely large before treatment. However, the underlying weakness in the vein walls is not corrected, and therefore new vessels will possibly continue to appear at the same rate as before treatment.

What do I do after the treatment?

Generally you will be required to wear some form of support or pressure garment for a period of time, usually a week. Failure to do this may compromise the effectiveness of the treatment, so the inconvenience of a leg bandage for a week should be factored in to the timing of your appointment. You should also be able to do regular walking after your treatment, as this promotes the emptying of the leg veins, including the ones treated.

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