Sclerotherapy Treatment Melbourne

Injection Treatment for Varicose Veins & Spider Veins

A patient’s guide

Mr Mark Lovelock – FRACS
Vascular & Endovascular Surgeon

What is Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a treatment for varicose veins and spider veins. Mostly commonly found in the legs and ankles, varicose veins and spider veins are caused by weakened valves and veins not working correctly to help the blood flow back to the heart. As a result blood collects in the veins and pressure builds up.

Varicose veins and spider veins aren’t usually serious, but they can lead to other symptoms such as aching, tiredness, swelling or pain in your legs, feet or ankles. Serious cases can lead to deep vein thrombosis or blood clots.

What are varicose veins and spider veins

Varicose veins – Commonly found in the legs and feet, varicose veins are abnormally dilated blood vessels that can be painful. They may be blue or dark purple in colour and look like twisted and bulging cords in your legs.

Spider veins – Also known as telangiectasia, spider veins, are smaller and have a fine web like appearance. They are also caused by abnormally dilated visible blood vessels in the skin. These veins appear on the legs and calves and may be blue, purple, or red in colour.

Varicose and spider veins are common in women, and can be a result of pregnancy, trauma, obesity, and standing or sitting for long periods.

What happens during sclerotherapy treatment

During sclerotherapy with Mr Lovelock a saline and aethoxysclerol solution is injected directly into the vein. The solution destroys the cells lining in the veins causing the vein to swell and collapse overtime. By applying pressure the vein walls stick together and close preventing blood flow. Then over the coming weeks the vein is gradually absorbed by the body and disappears.

Sclerotherapy treatment – What can you expect

Sclerotherapy is a common and highly effective treatment for varicose and spider veins and has been common since the 1930’s. It involves injecting a solution directly into the vein that causes scaring and closing of the vein. The vein is absorbed back into the body and your blood naturally reroutes to healthier veins.

There may be a little discomfort from the needle and a small stinging sensation after the solution is injected but the procedure is largely non-painful as the chemical has a local anaesthetic-like action. Following the injection the vein is compressed by bandaging the limb. This helps the vein walls collapse and stick together.

The compression is an important component of the treatment of larger varicose veins although smaller spider veins do not require this approach. On the following day you can take your dressings off, the leg will be bruised and lumpy and somewhat tender. This is a normal response.

How long does sclerotherapy treatment take

The actual treatment time itself depends on the size and number of the varicose veins and/or spider veins being treated. Most procedures are a hospital day surgery visit (most treatments with Mr Lovelock are outpatient procedures) and you can resume normal activities almost immediately.

How long does it take for the skin to look normal

Bruising is common and the healing process may take two to six weeks. The vein/s will go a dark colour which will fade with time. The veins are reabsorbed into the body and depending on the size of the vein it may take from six weeks to two years to fade. The overall cosmetic appearance usually occurs in six weeks to six months after commencement of the treatment.

Potential complications

Complications

Any complication of treatment should be referred back to Mr Lovelock’s office.  Your local doctor will look after any normal illness but difficulties with this treatment, please report them to Mr. Lovelock immediately on (03) 9421 8944.

Swelling – The solution used in sclerotherapy brakes down part of the cell wall to help it collapse. This causes inflammation. The swelling can occur in the limb that has been injected for some period of time. This normally resolves over two to six weeks.

Pain – Pain may occur, on injection, in the form of a stinging sensation. When the vein wall leaks sclerosant into the tissue this pain can be uncomfortable. Normally this resolves quickly after the injection. Persisting pain usually indicates difficulties with the process and you should inform Mr Lovelock immediately.

Ulcers – Ulcers or blisters may occur as the agent used damages vessels. Entry or leakage of the agent into the capillaries of the skin can produce death of a small area of the skin causing a black scab or a small ulcer.

Lesions that are large are best managed by excision of the ulcers and closure with a single stitch. This leaves a fine scar and saves on the time and discomfort. Small scab scars or ulcers usually heal within six weeks.  The risk of this complication is one in three hundred treatments.

Anaphylaxis – Severe allergy (life threatening) occurs in approximately one in two million treatments with this agent. It happens within minutes of the initiation of treatment and requires an immediate injection of adrenaline for resuscitation.

Rash – Sometimes a rash can occur and the instance of this is approximately one in two thousand patients. It responds rapidly to the usual medications for rash of an allergic nature.

Vein Thrombosis – The larger the vessel treated the higher the risk of damage occurring to the deep veins inside the leg. This is known as deep vein thrombosis.  This requires treatment with blood thinners and hospitalisation. Fortunately for the vast majority of veins treated on the surface of the leg this complication is not seen. Attempts to inject very large veins in the leg can lead to deep vein thrombosis and therefore very large vessels are not treated by means of injection sclerotherapy.

Bandaging – Although the bandage can be taken off after 24 hours a better result may occur if the bandage is kept on for three days.  Spider veins do not require bandaging.

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