Sclerotherapy Treatment: How Does It Work, and Is It Right for You?

doctor talking to patient in the office

Table of Contents

  • What Is Sclerotherapy?
  • Are There Risks? 
  • What Happens at an Initial Appointment?
  • What Should You Wear to a Treatment?
  • What Happens During Treatment?
  • Does Sclerotherapy Hurt? 
  • How Long Does It Take to Heal?
  • How Soon Do You See Results?
  • How Much Does Sclerotherapy Cost?

Sclerotherapy is a simple, quick, and effective spider vein treatment with little risk of complications. It is designed to seal off the affected vein, eliminating the blemish. Sclerotherapy is often the treatment of choice for spider veins, as it is cost-efficient and among the least invasive options.

What Is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is the injection of a liquid or foam solution directly into the problem vein. The solution irritates the lining inside the vein, causing it to swell closed. The body reroutes the blood through healthier veins. The treated vein is slowly reabsorbed into the body and fades away from view. 

Are There Risks? 

Sclerotherapy can cause temporary cosmetic side effects, such as bruising, small sores, or discoloration at the site. These cosmetic issues generally disappear in a few days or weeks. Other complications are quite rare, but they can include inflammation, a blood clot, or an allergic reaction.

What Happens at an Initial Appointment?

The doctor will examine the veins in question and check for underlying problems with your blood vessels. They will ask about any allergies or medical conditions you may have, your prescriptions, which over-the-counter medicines and supplements you take, and any previous vein treatments.

If you take blood thinners, steroids, or anti-inflammatories, your vein specialist may have you stop taking them for a certain number of days before sclerotherapy. Sometimes the specialist orders an ultrasound to produce a picture of the affected veins.

What Should You Wear to a Treatment?

Avoid shaving or applying lotion to your legs the day before treatment, the day of treatment, and afterward until the injection site is healed.

Wear something loose and comfortable. Consider wearing shorts to the appointment, or bring shorts with you to wear during the procedure. If you already own compression hose (stockings) or bandages, bring them with you. The specialist will let you know whether you need to wear them after the sclerotherapy procedure.

What Happens During Treatment?

The treatment is usually at the doctor’s office, as it does not require anesthesia. The doctor will clean the area to be treated and use a very fine needle to slowly inject the solution into the vein. 

After the needle is withdrawn, the doctor will massage the area to help disperse the solution and apply compression to keep blood out of the vein. If multiple veins are being treated, a compression pad may be placed on the site so the doctor can proceed to treat the next vein.

The number of injections needed depends on the number and size of the veins treated. The procedure usually takes around 15 to 45 minutes. Even if there are multiple veins to be treated, the process should take no longer than an hour.

Does Sclerotherapy Hurt? 

When the solution is injected into a vein, some people feel a mild stinging or cramping sensation for a minute or two. If you experience a lot of pain, let your doctor know. 

How Long Does It Take to Heal?

You will likely be able to get up and walk right away. In fact, moving your legs can help prevent the formation of blood clots, though that problem is very rare after sclerotherapy. You will probably be able to return to your normal activities the same day.

Your vein specialist will likely tell you to avoid strenuous exercise for two weeks after sclerotherapy. Protect the injection site from sun exposure during those two weeks. If there is any inflammation, sunlight can cause dark spots to form at the site.

Most people are asked to wear compression stockings or bandages on the leg for about two weeks after the treatment. Your vein specialist will tell you exactly how long to wear them. 

How Soon Do You See Results?

Spider veins and small varicose veins usually fade within a few weeks of the treatment, but it may take four to six weeks to see the full effect. Larger veins may take longer, up to three or four months in some cases.

The success rate for sclerotherapy is around 60% to 80%. In most cases, treatment will need to be repeated to achieve the desired results. Veins that respond to the treatment typically do not come back. Lifestyle changes may help keep new varicose veins or spider veins from forming.

You will probably have a follow-up appointment with your vein specialist about a month after sclerotherapy. The specialist will examine the site and help you decide if further treatment is needed. 

How Much Does Sclerotherapy Cost?

Most insurance plans will cover an initial visit to a vein specialist to determine if treatment is medically necessary. Insurance may cover the cost of sclerotherapy for varicose veins that cause symptoms like swelling, pain, itching, or skin sores.

Insurance will not likely cover the procedure for spider veins or small varicose veins that do not cause symptoms. How much is sclerotherapy out of pocket? In the United States, the average cost is $350 per session.

Find Out If Sclerotherapy Is Right for You

A specialist can answer any other questions and help you determine whether sclerotherapy is the best treatment option for your spider veins. Use My Vein Treatment’s vein specialist locator tool to find a specialist in your area.


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