Sclerotherapy for Thread Veins

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Thread veins are the result of damage or expansion of smaller blood vessels (like capillaries) in the skin. The result is the characteristic visible spider venation which, while not a health risk, is considered by many to be an unseemly nuisance. Sclerotherapy is an option for removing thread veins if you should wish to do so, and isn’t as daunting as it may sound!

What is sclerotherapy and how does it work?

Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical method used to treat thread veins. An irritant solution is injected into the affected blood vessels by means of a needle, this works to damage the lining of the target vessel. The body has its own refined methods of self preservation, and a vital part of this system is the recognition and removal of damaged tissues so you can then replace them with healthy and whole cells. Sclerotherapy relies on this self repair mechanism, which kicks in and reabsorbs the damaged vein, leaving the skin spider vein free!

An ultrasound is often used to guide the professional applying the treatment. This is a safety precaution which allows for the visualisation of the target veins, and also for the monitoring of the treatment itself as it’s being conducted.

Post-treatment you will be asked to compress the treated area with bandaging or stockings for up to two weeks. You will also be asked to retain a certain level of activity to maintain healthy blood flow to your lower limbs, this is unlikely to be anything more extreme than regular walks. Treatments will often be applied over a minimum of two sessions several weeks apart for the best results.

What is foam sclerotherapy?

Foam sclerotherapy follows the same basic principles of the more usual sclerotherapy technique, but uses ‘foamed’ sclerosant drugs, which are the usual treatment drugs, alongside air or carbon dioxide. You may ask why, but the results speak volumes. The foamed drug is far more effective in achieving the damage and subsequent removal of target veins because it isn’t diluted upon injection by mixing with your blood. The agent displaces it in fact, allowing for the greatest possible effect of the drug.

Is sclerotherapy for me?

Sclerotherapy is in fact the treatment of choice for larger thread veins as it confers many advantages over the other popular form of treatment, laser therapy. Lasers apply high energy light to the surface of your skin, which carries some risk of irritation, scarring, and potentially pigment damage (resulting in dark or white blotching which in some cases can be permanent). Sclerotherapy however is applied directly to offending veins, circumventing these risks.  In addition the solution applied during the therapy closes veins known as ‘feeder veins’ which feed your thread veins, this effect reduces the likelihood of the condition recurring.

There are however certain points to be considered when deciding whether sclerotherapy is for you. Some complications, while rare, include an allergic reaction to the sclerosant drugs. If this happens you suffer inflammation in the area being treated. When the procedure is carried out correctly there is no risk of damage to the surrounding healthy skin. However if the drugs are injected into the surrounding skin, scarring and cell death can occur, leaving unseemly marks that can take months to heal, if ever.  Systemic issues are even rarer and only occur if the sclerosant drug is somehow transported to major organs via the blood vessels.

Even with these concerns in mind, sclerotherapy is a treatment which has been proven to be both safe and effective. It is still important to thoroughly research any potential treatment centres and ensure that a full pre-procedural examination is conducted.

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