Up to 35% of adults have varicose veins or spider veins. While this condition isn’t dangerous, it can be painful, and it also changes the appearance of the legs. Fortunately, there are excellent treatment methods that are effective and minimally invasive. At R. Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View, CA, we offer several options, including sclerotherapy. Let’s have a closer look at how this works and what to expect when you come to the clinic.
How Does Sclerotherapy Work?
This treatment is a quick and easy way of addressing small and medium-sized varicose veins. It involves injecting a chemical called sclerosant into the affected veins. This prompts the vein to collapse so no blood can flow through it anymore. Over time, the body recognizes that the vein is no longer functional, and it absorbs and secretes it.
This means that your vein no longer exists, and all your symptoms related to the varicosity fade away. As a result, you’ll stop suffering from the condition unless new varicose veins form. If you only need to get rid of one or two veins, you might not need multiple sessions. However, most patients come to the clinic two to four times.
How Do I Know I Need Treatment?
Varicose veins are blue or dark purple, and they are often swollen. They occur as a result of damaged or broken valves, which no longer stop the blood from flowing backward. Although the condition is related to age and lifestyle factors like your weight, it can also be genetic. You’ll know you have varicose veins if the blood vessels in your leg are dark, swollen, twisted, and painful.
Normally, varicosities aren’t a cause for concern, and many patients simply live with them. However, it’s important to see a doctor if you suddenly develop varicose veins because you might have an underlying condition related to your circulatory system. Sometimes, varicose veins cause pain, itching, skin problems, and leg cramps. In this case, getting treatment is essential because it will help you eliminate these symptoms.
Is Treatment Safe?
Some people avoid or delay getting treated because they are worried about the side effects or dangers associated with medical intervention. This is especially true since sclerosant is a chemical that doesn’t occur naturally in the body. Luckily, it is completely safe when administered by a professional healthcare provider at the correct dose.
The chemical doesn’t stay in your body long term because it is absorbed and then secreted, along with the broken vein. If you’re worried about having sclerosant injected into your veins, speak to us. We will check your medical history to make sure you don’t have any allergies or medical conditions that interfere with treatment. If you’d rather not have sclerosant injected, or you’re not eligible, laser or radiofrequency treatment might be a better option.
What Happens During the Session?
When you come to the clinic for your session, we’ll double-check the treatment area to make sure we know which veins to address. We might mark the injection sites on your skin. Most patients don’t feel any pain while they are being treated because the needle used is very fine, but there might be some sensation. If you’re particularly sensitive, we can use numbing cream to improve your experience.
Most sessions last between 30 and 45 minutes. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to return home straight away. Because this treatment affects your legs, driving might not be safe, and it’s better to arrange transportation ahead of time. However, you won’t need to have anyone stay with you overnight because you won’t be under general anesthesia during treatment.
How Do I Prepare and Recover from Treatment?
Follow all our instructions in the time before and after your session. Depending on your individual situation, we might advise you to apply a certain lotion or cream to the treatment area. We’ll also let you know which medications and supplements you’re not allowed to take in the days leading up to sclerotherapy. Patients usually need to avoid blood thinners, alcohol, recreational drugs, and nicotine.
After treatment, we’ll likely ask you to wear compression stockings for several days or weeks. You shouldn’t participate in certain activities like swimming, vigorous exercise, and sauna visits for some time. Other than that, you’ll be able to return to your regular routine and even go back to work right away.
What Results Can I Expect?
As mentioned, the results from treatment with sclerosant are permanent because the vein gets absorbed and broken down by your body. Because you have so many veins, this isn’t a problem, and your blood will simply find a new path to travel through. Unless you develop new varicosities, you won’t need to return to the clinic after your course of treatment is complete.
It takes your body some time to fully break down a vein, so you won’t experience instant results. Most patients start to notice an improvement within a few weeks, and the final results might be visible after six weeks. If your veins are very large, it’ll take longer, and your body will need up to four months to fully break down the tissue.
Am I a Good Candidate?
Almost anyone who suffers from varicose veins can get sclerosant injected. This treatment is minimally invasive, so it’s appropriate even for people who aren’t eligible for elective surgery due to a medical condition. The best way to find out whether you’re the ideal candidate is to book an initial consultation at the clinic. We’ll evaluate your varicosities and let you know whether this is the best treatment option.
People who have circulatory conditions or are prone to blood clots will need to be more careful than others. Similarly, women who are currently pregnant or have just given birth are not eligible. It’s best for them to wait at least three months until they get treated. It’s also important to consider that most pregnant women don’t need treatment because their varicose veins go away once their child is born.
What Are My Other Treatment Options?
If getting sclerosant injected isn’t your preferred method, or you’re not eligible, there are several other possibilities. Compression stockings might be enough, especially if your condition is mild. Alternatively, you might be a great candidate for laser therapy or radiofrequency ablation, both of which are highly effective. People with severe varicose veins can benefit from a treatment called ligation and stripping, which is slightly more invasive.
Compression stockings are great for people with varicose veins because they stop the condition from getting worse. When your legs are compressed, they are less likely to swell up because normal blood flow is supported. Many patients report that they feel much less pain when they wear their stockings.
If you’re getting treated at the clinic, we’re likely to ask you to wear stockings during the recovery period. However, people with mild varicose veins or spider veins might not need treatment at all because wearing the stockings could be enough.
Laser Therapy or Radiofrequency Ablation
Laser therapy and radiofrequency ablation are quite similar to sclerosant injections, but they use energy instead of a chemical to close the vein. When applied to the inside of your varicose vein, the laser or radiofrequency energy heats up the tissue and prompts the vein to close. The body then breaks it down.
People who have deeper veins and light skin might benefit more from energy-based therapy than chemical therapy, since this treatment can address more severe varicosities. However, it all depends on the patient’s individual situation.
Ligation and Stripping
Ligation is the process of tying off and therefore destroying the function of a vein, and stripping means removing the broken vein from your body. This process is a bit more invasive than the other methods mentioned, but for most people, it still doesn’t require anesthesia or a stay at the hospital. Ligation and stripping might be necessary if your veins are very large.
It takes slightly longer than the other methods, and you might have to rest for three to seven days after treatment. Like the above-named treatments, it is highly effective and works well in over 90% of cases.
Get Rid of Painful Varicose Veins Now
Varicose veins are extremely common, especially in people over the age of 50. If you suffer from this condition, don’t hesitate to come to the clinic and ask about treatment. Almost everyone is eligible for our minimally invasive methods, which include sclerotherapy, laser therapy, and radiofrequency ablation. Call us at R. Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View, CA, and book your initial consultation now.