Vein problems are quite a common occurrence. People have been looking for ways to eliminate spider and varicose veins for years, both for aesthetic and health reasons. One of the most effective ways to treat veins is sclerotherapy.
The procedure has been around for over 150 years, and it is a proven method with minimal risks. Here, we will go through everything you need to know about sclerotherapy, i.e., what it is, how it works, how to prepare for it, and some ways to reduce the chances of side effects.
What Is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a process of treating blood vessel malformations. The basics of the procedure are pretty simple — the doctor will inject medicine into blood vessels. As a result, the veins will shrink.
It is a common way of treating varicose veins, reticular, and spider veins. The procedure is done either visually or under the guidance of ultrasound.
It is a non-surgical and minimally invasive treatment. The main reason why people opt for sclerotherapy is that it is effective, quick, and the downtime is significantly reduced compared to varicose vein surgery.
Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins
Sclerotherapy is the most popular way of treating varicose and spider veins. However, what is the difference between the two? Varicose veins are swollen and twisted blood vessels. The most common areas where they tend to develop are legs, and you can see them through the skin.
Spider veins are a lot smaller dilated red, purple blood vessels. While spider veins are also twisted, and you can see them through the skin, it is not the same condition as varicose veins — the main difference between the two lies in size.
Varicose veins are bluish or green, and they are a lot bigger.
Who Is the Most Susceptible to Spider & Varicose Veins and Why?
There are several reasons why someone might develop spider and varicose veins. The first and most important reason is the hereditary factor. If one of your parents has had either of these two conditions, there is a chance you will develop it as well.
Of course, other things might act as a trigger for the condition as well. These include a weight change, either gaining or losing a lot of weight, having a job involving a lot of standing (or sitting), using birth control pills, experiencing hormonal changes related to pregnancies or regular monthly cycles, and many others.
Women are also more likely to develop varicose, and spider veins than men, and interestingly, varicose veins can cause spider veins. However, spider veins can’t lead to varicose ones.
What to Do Before the Treatment
If you have decided to go for the treatment, there are a few things you need to know before you undergo the procedure. Here, we will take a look at some ways to prepare and what you should avoid doing beforehand.
What to Do
The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor and go through your medical history. You need to know if there is any contraindication for you to have the treatment.
The doctor will evaluate your condition, and they will be able to check if there is an underlying disease causing the problem with your blood vessels. It is essential to tell them if you are taking any type of medication if you have suffered any illnesses lately, whether you have allergies, about your previous experiences with sclerotherapy (if any), etc.
If you are using medications like aspirin or ibuprofen, your doctor will walk you through the process of taking a break from them for the duration of sclerotherapy.
Once you confirm that you’re good to go, you can prepare for the treatment. Ideally, you will get a good night’s sleep before the treatment, and we recommend you eat at least an hour before the procedure. Again, we should mention that the procedure is not inherently dangerous, so you have nothing to worry about.
Being well-rested and ready for sclerotherapy also means that you should get hydrated. Many doctors recommend buying medical compression stockings since you might need them after the treatment.
What to Avoid
Now that we’ve covered things that you should do before the treatment let’s talk about everything you need to avoid at all costs before sclerotherapy. You should avoid drinking coffee or anything else that has caffeine. It’s best to drink water.
Avoid shaving your legs or using creams, lotions, or oils on your skin before the treatment. You can continue shaving and using creams and oils once the injection site has healed. The same advice applies to tanning beds or self-tanning products. The healing process is not long, and you need to be careful for a few days after the sclerotherapy treatment.
Moreover, you should avoid any strenuous physical activities after the procedure. If you want to go dancing, running, or anything else that may be stressful for your legs, you need to postpone it. But, plan on walking for 30 minutes after the treatment.
Medications You Shouldn’t Use
If you’re using any medications, beware because there are a few types you need to avoid if you’re about to undergo a sclerotherapy treatment.
You shouldn’t use aspirin or any medications containing it, nor medications like Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, or Aleve before your sclerotherapy treatment. You should also avoid medication drugs like antibiotics and Prednisone
Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs can interfere with the sclerosing process, decrease treatment efficiency, and increase bleeding and bruising. Furthermore, Prednisone can reduce the efficiency of the procedure or make it ineffective.
If you are using any of these drugs, you need to stop taking them five to ten days before sclerotherapy. To avoid any potential health issues, talk to your doctor about reducing the intake of these substances safely.
Using acetaminophens (for example, Tylenol) is okay.
What to Wear
We have already mentioned that getting medical compression stockings is a good idea, and you will need to wear them for 72 hours after the treatment. You can remove the support hose during nighttime. However, we highly recommend wearing it during the day for the next couple of days. Ideally, you will use it for three weeks in total, except during the night.
Of course, you can continue wearing the support hose even after three weeks since it can improve the results and your long-term vein health. You might want to consult your doctor on other details.
As for the day of the procedure, you should wear shorts or something that will expose your legs easily. Not only will a pair of shorts allow you to feel more comfortable, but you will also lower the chances of experiencing any potential side effects.
It’s a good idea to carry the stockings with you to the procedure so that you can start using them as soon as the treatment is over.
If This Is Your First Treatment
If you have never been to sclerotherapy before, there are a few things to keep in mind. The process is not painful, and it is done in the doctor’s office. It doesn’t require anesthesia, and it takes about 15 minutes.
Before you go to the treatment, remember to avoid the medications mentioned above, drink enough fluid, and avoid using creams or oils on your legs. Always carry compression hosiery and tensor bandages with you and wear loose clothes.
If this Isn’t Your First Treatment
If you’ve been to the treatment before, you already know how the procedure goes. There is nothing to worry about if you take our advice and talk to your doctor about any possible medical condition, allergic reactions, or anything else that may be important for sclerotherapy.
The number of necessary sessions can vary from person to person. For some, one or two treatments are enough, but some require ten or more. The average number of sessions is between four and six. Usually, the treatments are performed every one to two weeks, but most patients choose to have them once a month.
The Importance of the Support System — What to Ask Your Physician
While sclerotherapy is not a complex procedure, you still need to know as much as you can about the treatment. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and see what he/she has to say about the subject.
You might want to ask him/her a few questions as being well-informed will help you stay relaxed during and after the treatment. Remember that knowledge is power, and not being familiar with something makes us afraid of it. We don’t know what might happen during or after the treatment, and uncertainty causes stress and anxiety.
So you have the right to learn everything about sclerotherapy, how it works, and what you can expect. Ask your physician about their previous experiences with it, how long they have been doing these procedures, whether you are a good candidate for sclerotherapy, how long it will take you to recover, and anything else you might want to know.
It is also a good idea to ask him/her if they have any before and after photographs or if there are any side effects you need to be aware of. It is the only way to know what to expect and be prepared to react if a complication occurs.
Managing Treatment Expectations
There is a good chance you have already done some research on the subject, and you have at least a vague idea of how the treatment will unfold. While the information you’ve gathered might be accurate to an extent, it is always better to hear the data directly from the source.
We live in a world where almost any piece of information is a few clicks away, and it is always a great idea to read and learn about the things you’re interested in. However, the fact that one doctor performs the procedure in a certain way doesn’t mean it is a rule that applies to every clinic. That is the reason why you should talk to your doctor and see how he/she does it.
It is the safest way to know what to expect. The doctor will be able to help you prepare for the treatment as well as explain how everything will go step by step. Furthermore, he/she will be able to explain any potential problems, precautions, and how to avoid any side effects.
Why Ottawa Vein & Cosmetic Medical Clinic
Here at the Ottawa Vein & Cosmetic Medical Clinic, we have years of experience with sclerotherapy. We know how to help our patients in a way that will lower their chances of side effects while increasing the effectiveness of the therapy.
Our team will be more than happy to walk you through every single detail of the procedure, and you are free to ask anything you would like to know. For more information, you can contact us, and we will gladly answer any question you might have as soon as possible.