SCLEROTHERAPY – TREATMENT OF SURFACE VEINS, FACIAL VEINS AND VARICOSE VEINS BY INJECTION
CHARACTERISTICS OF LEG VEINS
Dilated blood vessels, also called varicose or spider veins, have a red, blue or purple color 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. 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 stocking may prevent some dilated blood vessels from developing in some people. Avoid wearing high heeled shoes as these affect the proper functioning of the larger veins, and avoid prolonged standing.
HISTORY OF SCLEROTHERAPY
In the majority of cases, a procedure called sclerotherapy is used to treat these blood vessels, in which solution is injected with a very fine needle directly into the blood vessel. This procedure has been used in various forms for veins since the 1920’s 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. Some vessels will have vanished by the time the bandages are removed.
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 pressurize other veins treated during that session. Depending on its size, a single blood vessel may have o be injected more than once, but in any one treatment session a number of vessels may be injected. The solutions used vary somewhat with the size of the vessel to be injected and your doctor will be able to decide which veins are to have which solutions.
Larger varicose veins often underline spider veins. In such cases it is thought that it is best to treat these vessels first. Sometimes sclerotherapy is the appropriate therapy for these veins but sometimes surgery is required. The type of treatment necessary is determined by clinical examination and vascular ultrasound examination which gives a precise diagnosis of any major superficial vein abnormalities. If the varicose and reticular veins are treated first, often the spider veins that were connected to these will disappear over the following weeks without themselves being injected. Because of this it may be advisable to space out the number of treatments required.
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS TO SCLEROTHERAPY?
Even when a highly experienced doctor is performing the treatment, there are a number of possible side effects. These include various skin markings or injury, localized swelling and bruising, tenderness, or itching. Most of the side effects are minor and confined to the area that 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 TREATED VEINS RECUR?
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. These of course can be treated as they occur. The problem of venous disease is generally a progressive one, and unfortunately most of the causative factors are either no known or not treatable.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER LEG VEIN TREATMENT?
Generally you will be required to wear some form of a 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.
HOW ARE FACIAL VEINS TREATED?
The theory used in closing facial veins is similar to that with leg veins, but the technique is different. After the vein has been injected, blood usually returns to the vein, and clots in it, The usual healing process then occurs, with the blood being slowly carried away and the vessel destroyed. Because the pressure in the facial vessels is different to that in leg vessels. the side effects are slightly different. Bruising and puffiness are the most common side effects to occur when facial vessels are injected. The face heals very well, and most of these markings will persist less than a few weeks, and will be easy to cover with makeup.
YOU CAN DO SOMETHING!
Women do a lot to make their legs beautiful: creams and anti-cellulite products, epilation, massages and special leg exercises. Although these efforts can make a big difference, special treatment procedures are needed to remove spider veins. One possibility is [Micro-Sclerotherapy]. Sclerosing these fine veins may bring improvement of up to 90%.
Micro-Sclerotherapy is a tried and trusted procedure which allows the outpatient treatment of unsightly spider veins and mini- varicose veins in the legs – without lasers, surgery or anaesthesia.
A session takes only about 10-15 minutes. A special solution causes the inside walls of the dilated veins to react and stick together. They are then resorbed naturally by the body and disappear with time.