How long do vein treatments take?
It depends on the type of treatment done. Endovenous ablation and phlebectomy can take 2 hours and sclerotherapy should take only 45-60 minutes. It is important to note that multiple sessions could be required to completely treat your condition depending on the the size and complexity your disease process.
Will it hurt?
Most patients experience some discomfort as local anesthesia using injections will be involved. While the amount of post treatment pain varies from one patient to another, most require only Tylenol or ibuprofen for any discomfort.
Who are candidates for vein treatment?
Any individual at almost any age can be a candidate for vein treatment. A thorough history, physical, and ultrasound examination will most likely be needed to give a definitive treatment plan.
How many vein treatments are required?
The number of treatments to provide you with the results you want to achieve will be determined during your initial consultation session where a personalized treatment plan will be developed. For most large bulging veins, one treatment is all that is needed. Spider veins do require several treatments. The average person requires 3-5 sessions spaced 4 weeks apart in order to get resolution.
Sclerotherapy (SKLER-o-ther-a-pee) is the most common treatment for both spider veins and varicose veins. The doctor uses a needle to inject a liquid chemical into the vein. The chemical causes the vein walls to swell, stick together, and seal shut. This stops the flow of blood, and the vein turns into scar tissue. In a few weeks, the vein should fade. This treatment does not require anesthesia and can be done in our office. You can return to normal activity right after treatment and resume heavy exercise in 72 hours. The same vein may need to be treated more than once. Treatments are usually done every 4 weeks. You will be asked to wear gradient compression stockings after sclerotherapy to help with healing and decrease swelling for 3 days. This treatment is very effective when done correctly. There is a type of sclerotherapy called ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (or echo-sclerotherapy). This type of sclerotherapy uses ultrasound imaging to guide the needle. It can be useful in treating veins that cannot be seen on the skin’s surface. It may be used after surgery or endovenous techniques to further treat varicose veins.
Endovenous Techniques (Radiofrequency and Laser)
These methods for treating the deeper veins of the legs, called the saphenous (SAF-uh-nuhs) veins, have replaced in-patient surgery for most patients with severe varicose veins. These techniques can be done in a doctor’s office. The doctor puts a very small tube, called a catheter, into the vein. A small probe is placed through the tube. A device at the tip of the probe heats up the inside of the vein and closes it off. The device can use radiofrequency or laser energy to seal the vein. The procedure can be done using just local anesthesia. You might have slight bruising after treatment. Healthy veins around the closed vein take over the normal flow of blood. The symptoms from the varicose vein improve. Usually, veins on the surface of the skin that are connected to the treated varicose vein will also shrink after treatment. If they don’t, these connected veins can be treated with microphlebectomy, sclerotherapy or other techniques
What about side effects of vein treatment?
Most treatments have minimal side effects and recovery time. Patients often experience slight redness or bruising following treatment, but this goes away within a few days. Possible side effects include:
- Stinging, red and raised patches of skin, or bruises where the injection was made. These usually go away shortly after treatment.
- Spots, staining, or groups of fine red blood vessels around the treated vein. These also usually go away shortly after treatment.
- Lumps of blood that get trapped in vein and cause inflammation. This is not dangerous. You can relieve swelling by applying heat and taking an anti-inflammatory. Your doctor can drain the trapped blood with a small pinprick at a follow-up visit.
- Superficial thrombophlebitis (throm-bo-fli-BYT-uhs), which is a blood clot that forms in a vein just below the skin. Symptoms include skin redness; a firm, tender, warm vein; and sometimes pain and swelling. This may develop after treatment of larger veins. Compression, heat and sometimes drainage helps.
- Chemical ulcer (sore). A chemical irritation and eruption can occur with injection sclerotherapy, although rare. This area is sore but heals quickly.
- Skin burn, the radiofrequency or laser catheter emits heat and seals the diseased vein shut. These catheters are capable of burning the skin if used improperly. This is rare.
- Deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a deeper vein. It can cause a “pulling” feeling in the calf, pain, warmth, redness, and swelling. However, sometimes it causes no significant symptoms.
See our pages on what to expect before treatment and after treatment.