Varicose veins, spider veins and all types of venous impairments can be painful, embarrassing, and unattractive. Sclerotherapy, a treatment that has been used for almost a century, has proven rather effective as a way to decrease the size of conspicuous veins. Additionally, sclerotherapy has become a way of helping alleviate not only physical distress, but the emotional discomfort these conditions can cause.
Generally speaking, malformations of the veins are the result of a genetic predisposition, medical condition that interferes with your blood’s clotting factors, or veins that are weak-walled or lack smooth muscle. Excess weight and pressure, as seen in pregnancy, for example, can encourage the development of varicose or otherwise malformed veins in the legs, too.
Sclerotherapy is performed by a physician who is specially trained in this procedure, and involves the injection of a chemical known as a sclerosant, into the disfigured, damaged, or malformed vein. This chemical, microfoam or a salt solution, is inserted into the vein by way of a guided ultrasound, and promotes scarring of the treated vein. As this scarring develops, it forces the blood within the vein to reroute to others. The once enlarged vein is then absorbed into its surrounding tissue and decreases in size and volume over the next several weeks, post treatment.
Though sclerotherapy is often considered a cosmetic procedure, it is not limited to this arena. In fact, symptoms such as constant pain, a stinging sensation, nocturnal leg cramps, and swelling, can be dramatically ameliorated through this procedure. The fact that it may serve cosmetic purposes as well, may just be serendipitous. No matter why you choose sclerotherapy, however, your physician will assess you for underlying problems to determine if you are indeed eligible for the procedure.
Though sclerotherapy can be life changing, it is not an appropriate course of treatment for all who seek it. Patients who take blood thinners, have had prior negative reactions to this or similar treatments, as well as those with allergies to the sclerosant being used, are ineligible for this procedure. Sclerotherapy is also discouraged for pregnant patients, those who are breastfeeding, smokers, patients who are bed bound, and anyone with deep vein damage. Patients who are good candidates for this procedure include individuals between the ages of 30 to 60 years old, those can be compliant with post- treatment directions, and folks who do not have a history of problems with blood clotting.
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