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Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical vein treatment which involves injecting a chemical foam sclerosant into varicose or thread veins. The solution works by collapsing the affected blood vessels, which then stick together and turn into virtually invisible scar tissue.
Sclerotherapy is used to treat both the symptoms and the causes of varicose veins and thread veins. Although it is sometimes the necessary primary treatment required to treat the underlying vein condition, it is most commonly used as a secondary treatment following EVLA, specifically to treat the residual and smaller varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy is carried out on an outpatient basis, and usually takes no more than 30-45 minutes, depending on how many veins need treating. Our patients do not usually find the injections painful, and there is little to no recovery time following the procedure – meaning that you can usually resume normal activities straight away.
What does the sclerotherapy procedure involve?
A chemical sclerosant liquid is mixed into a foam with air and injected directly into the varicose veins. The foam displaces the blood in the veins and then the chemical destroys the cells in the lining of the veins. The veins shrivel up and your body naturally breaks down and absorbs the dead tissue.
A detailed description
of sclerotherapy treatment
Prior to treatment an ultrasound scan will have been performed identifying what treatment the veins require. A full explanation of the treatment options including potential complications and success rates will have been given at your initial consultation. At the start of the appointment, you will be asked to sign to give your consent to the proposed treatment.
Sclerosants like STS have been used for many years to inject varicose veins. They work by killing the cells which form the skin that lines the vein wall. Without its skin, the vein dies off. Sclerosants work quite well for small veins, especially below the knee where good compression can be applied; however, if the underlying reflux is not dealt with, the varicose veins will just come back. More recently, it has been discovered that mixing the sclerosant with air or CO2 into a foam leads to a more effective closure of the veins.
The veins to be treated are identified. A small needle (butterfly) is inserted and the foam injected. The foam displaces the blood in the vein maintaining good contact with the cells in the lining of the vein which are then killed, and the vein dies off. The veins then shrink, and the body gradually breaks down the dead vein and absorbs it. As with EVLA, whilst the veins have been destroyed, the blood is naturally rerouted to healthy veins improving your circulation.
The requirement for ultrasound guidance during foam sclerotherapy depends on the size of the veins being treated. Ultrasound guidance is used when treating large varicose veins, however, for smaller veins close to the surface it is not often necessary for the ultrasound to be used as visual guidance is sufficient.
Although some doctors treat large veins by foam sclerotherapy the results are not as effective or as durable as EVLA and we do not recommend this as a primary treatment for the majority of patients. We do use sclerotherapy for any residual varicosities remaining at follow up after EVLA. Some patients with recurrence of varicose veins after EVLA may just need some sclerotherapy.
Due to the chemical nature of the sclerosant, there is a safety limit restricting how much can be treated in one session. We would love to continue injecting until we have managed to inject all your veins, however, if your veins are extensive this is simply not possible as the safe dose would be exceeded. As such, we advise patients point out which veins are bothering them the most and our specialists will inject those first in case it is not possible to inject all of the veins in one sitting due to the safety limit. Further sessions of foam sclerotherapy may be needed to treat any veins remaining after the first session. Once all veins have been injected a stocking is applied which is worn for 7 days.
We want you to get the most out of each foam sclerotherapy session and so we advise you wait for a minimum of 4 weeks between each session so that you can see the results of the first session before beginning the next. If your veins are very extensive, you may need more than one follow up session.
Frequentley asked Questions
How does it work?
Your vascular surgeon will carry out an ultrasound scan to determine the severity of your varicose veins and how many sessions will be needed to achieve the desired results.
The procedure involves your surgeon using a fine needle to inject the damaged vein with a sclerosing agent. The liquid or foam injected causes the walls of the treated vein to shut, so blood flow is redirected back to the healthy veins. Over the next few weeks up to a month, the body dissolves the vein, making it less visible and uncomfortable.
Depending on how deep the troublesome veins are located, the surgeon may need to carry out an ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy, to reach and treat beyond the surface veins and into the larger veins beneath.
What are the benefits?
- Pain relief
- Improved cosmetic appearance
- Minimal downtime for recovery
- Non-surgical approach
- Efficient, long-lasting results delivered by board certified and GMC registered surgeons
How soon will I see the results?
After twelve weeks
Is it painful?
You may experience minor cramping, stinging, or burning in the injected vein during the procedure, however, most of our patients have reported minimal pain.
Once you’ve had the treatment, the injection site may feel slightly sore for a few days. Your surgeon will advise to avoid strenuous exercise for a few days and wear appropriate compression stockings. Your doctor will prescribe you with the correct anti-swelling medication and painkillers.
Sclerotherapy healing time can last up to 6 weeks, depending on the number of treatments needed and the severity of your condition.
Can anyone get it?
The following are not suitable candidates:
- Not suitable if you are pregnant or breast feeding
- Not suitable if you have suffered from severe allergic reactions
- If you have a history of DVT, phlebitis or cellulitis (not to be confused with Cellulite)
- If you have just had or are planning a long haul journey within 6 weeks of treatment
Immobility or reduced mobility
Why Harley Street injectables
• Our highly trained and certified London Doctors and Nurses perform over 5000+ Injectable treatments annually.
• We tailor the injection approach to suit your aesthetic goals.
• Our London Nurses and Doctors use the latest techniques and continually stay up to date with current trends.
• We have a thorough understanding of the muscle anatomy to avoid unforeseen sided effects.
• The products we use are of the highest quality
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Harley Street Injectables are rated an average
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