Does Sclerotherapy Hurt? A New Patient’s Handbook

Table of Contents

  • Does Sclerotherapy Hurt?
  • What to Expect 
  • Before sclerotherapy
  • During Sclerotherapy
  • After Sclerotherapy
  • Sclerotherapy Side Effects and Complications
  • Recovery

Sclerotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for varicose veins and spider veins. The procedure involves injecting a chemical solution called sclerosant into the affected vein. The sclerosant irritates the walls of the vein and seals it shut. 

Varicose and spider veins occur when the valves of the blood vessels in your legs don’t function well. This causes blood to collect in the veins, making them appear enlarged, twisted, or varicose. Smaller veins often get damaged due to increased leg pressure, forming red, blue, or purple spider veins. 

Sclerotherapy helps eliminate these damaged veins by closing them and redirecting your blood into healthier veins. The treated vein is reabsorbed by the body and fades away. 

If you have vein problems, you may have questions like “does sclerotherapy hurt?” or “what are its side effects?” Here are all the answers you need about sclerotherapy.

Does Sclerotherapy Hurt?

Sclerotherapy is a simple, minimally invasive procedure. It is almost pain-free and doesn’t require anesthesia. However, some find it uncomfortable when the doctor injects the sclerosant into the affected vein. 

Chemicals like sclerosants may cause pain during injection. However, the degree of pain differs from person to person. Some patients may feel a slight stinging or cramping sensation during the injection. This pain lasts only for a minute or two. If the sclerosant leaks out of the vein, it can be painful for some and cause only mild sensations in others. 

If you feel unbearable pain, let your vein doctor know immediately. 

What to Expect 

During your first appointment, your vein specialist will check your condition and determine whether sclerotherapy is a good treatment for you. They will first examine your veins and check for underlying vein problems; then, they will check your family history. They may also check your prescriptions to see if you’ve had any previous vein removal procedures.

If they recommend sclerotherapy, here’s what to expect.

Before sclerotherapy

If you take blood thinners or other drugs, your vein specialist may ask you to stop for a few days before the procedure. 

Before and after the treatment, avoid shaving or applying lotion to your legs until the treated area is completely healed.

Wear loose and comfortable clothes for the procedure. Shorts are ideal for wearing during the treatment. If you have gradient compression stockings, bring them with you to the appointment, as you may be asked to wear them after sclerotherapy.

During Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is usually done at the vein specialist’s office, as it is a simple procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia. The doctor will start by cleaning the area around your affected vein. Then, they will use a fine needle to inject the chemical sclerosant into the vein. 

The doctor will withdraw the needle, then massage the area to help the chemical flow through the damaged vein and seal it shut. The massage also prevents the blood from entering into the closed vein. If many veins require sclerotherapy, your doctor may place a compression pad on the injection site before treating the next.                                                                                                                                                                           

After Sclerotherapy

You’ll be able to get up and walk immediately after the procedure. Your doctor will ask you to walk and move your legs to regulate blood circulation and prevent blood clots. After you go home, you’ll be able to go back to your routine activities the same day. You’ll be asked to wear gradient compression stockings on the leg for two weeks after the procedure. 

So you recover more quickly, your vein doctor will tell you to avoid these things for two weeks after sclerotherapy:

  • Strenuous exercise or heavy lifting
  • Sun exposure, which can cause skin darkening or pigmentation 
  • Heat exposure through hot baths or saunas, as they expand your veins and affect your recovery
  • Wearing tight clothes
  • Sitting or standing in one position for too long

Sclerotherapy Side Effects and Complications

Sclerotherapy has its set of side effects. These usually include bruising, stinging, or swelling near the injection site. Some patients also experience pain and discomfort due to the injection. Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medication to ease your symptoms.

Some patients may experience the following complications1 after sclerotherapy: 

  • Skin darkening or pigmentation
  • Inflammation 
  • Blisters
  • Blood clots in the treated vein
  • Allergic reaction to the chemical sclerosant2
  • Ulcers in the treated area
  • Skin infection

If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately for treatment.

Recovery

Your treated veins will completely disappear four to six weeks after the treatment. Large veins may take up to three or four months to fade away.

According to research, sclerotherapy has a success rate3 of around 75% to 90%. Patients may have to undergo treatment repeatedly to completely get rid of the damaged veins.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Veins that are closed by the treatment don’t come back. However, you’ll have to take the following steps to reduce the chances of new varicose or spider veins from occurring:

A month after your treatment, you’ll have to visit your vein specialist for a follow-up. They will examine the treated area and likely perform an ultrasound to check if your veins have healed.  Depending on your progress, they will check if you need further treatment. 

Find a Vein Specialist to Check If You Need Sclerotherapy 

Although we have answered your questions about sclerotherapy, you’ll need to visit a vein specialist to determine whether it is the right treatment for you. My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator map will help you find a qualified vein specialist in your locality. Consult a doctor of your choice to remove your varicose or spider veins permanently.

Citations

1.Subbarao NT, et al. (2013) Sclerotherapy in the management of varicose veins and its dermatological complications. 

2.Scurr JRH, et al. (2007) Anaphylaxis following foam sclerotherapy: A life-threatening complication of noninvasive treatment for varicose veins.

3.Veräjänkorva E, et al. (2016) The efficiency of sclerotherapy in the treatment of vascular malformations: A retrospective study of 63 patients.

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