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Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery

Vein Treatment (Sclerotherapy Varicose Vein Treatment)

What is vein treatment (sclerotherapy)?

If you suffer from leg swelling and discomfort from vein disease, varicose veins or spider veins, you’re not alone. An estimated 30 to 60 percent of adults suffer from these sometimes embarrassing and often painful conditions that can make walking or standing difficult. Thankfully, Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center offers the latest innovations in vein treatment for optimal results in your skin’s care.

Am I a candidate for vein treatment (sclerotherapy)?

Good candidates for vein treatment are individuals with spider or varicose veins who have a positive outlook and specific, but realistic goals in mind for the improvement of their appearance.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are confined to bed, you are not eligible for the vein treatment procedure called sclerotherapy. For pregnant women, your plastic surgeon will advise you to wait at least three months after delivery before you can be considered for this procedure.

If you have had a blood clot in the past, your eligibility for vein treatment will be determined on an individual basis and will depend on the extremity and the cause of the clot.

The best way to determine if you are a candidate for vein treatment is through a consultation with a specialist at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

How do I prepare for vein treatment (sclerotherapy)?

Preparation for vein treatment at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center includes:

  • A medical evaluation
  • Taking certain medications or adjusting your current medications
  • Stopping smoking
  • Avoiding aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
  • Taking photographs of treated areas before and after your procedure to evaluate improvement.

How is vein treatment (sclerotherapy) performed?

The goal of any vein treatment procedure is to reduce the symptoms that varicose and spider veins can cause and improve your overall appearance. Vein treatment at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is generally performed as an outpatient procedure, but you should plan to have a relative or friend drive you home afterward.

There are a wide range of treatments for varicose and spider veins, from minimally invasive laser therapy to surgical removal of larger varicosities. Your plastic surgeon will be able to advise which of these procedures is best for you.

What are the different types of vein treatments?

The types of vein treatment options offered by specialists at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center include:

Compression stockings

These are the most conservative treatment for vein disease, varicose veins and spider veins. Medical-grade support hose that fits properly is especially helpful when veins cause painful or uncomfortable symptoms. These stockings generally can be purchased at any medical supply store and at some pharmacies.


This medical procedure has been in use since the 1930s and uses an injection of solution directly into the vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view. The procedure is simple, relatively inexpensive and can be performed in your surgeon’s office.

Photodynamic Therapy

Intense, pulsed light is used to treat small spider veins, certain sizes of varicose veins and vascular birthmarks. This treatment might be recommended when sclerotherapy or laser therapy does not effectively treat the dilated vein. One to six treatments might be required to properly treat the area.

Laser therapy

Most effective for small facial and leg blood vessels, laser therapy heats the blood vessel and destroys it.

Surgical ligation/stripping

Severe varicose veins might require a surgical procedure in which the dilated vein is either removed or tied off through a small incision in the skin. The surgery is done in the hospital by a vascular surgeon.

What results can I expect?

The results of vein treatment vary depending on the technology or treatment prescribed for you at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. Vein treatment technologies and treatments available are advancing rapidly and you may be surprised at the improvement that can be achieved by relatively simple procedures.

Most patients experience immediate and long-lasting relief from the pain associated with varicose veins, as well as improved appearance of their legs. Follow-up with a specialist at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is the best way to ensure long-lasting results from vein treatment procedures.

What is involved in recovery?

Your recovery from vein treatment will vary depending on the type of procedure you have. Following sclerotherapy, you will be asked to wear compression hose. Most people are able to return home the same day after receiving vein treatment procedures and are encouraged to walk or perform other light activities right away.

In general, you will be able to return to work and to regular activities within a few days after treatment and should be at least somewhat physically active to avoid complications and encourage circulation. Compression stockings will need to be worn for between two and six weeks after most procedures, and strenuous activities should be avoided for several weeks.

Is vein treatment (sclerotherapy) safe?

All procedures carry some risk.

Possible side effects from vein treatment procedures include:

  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Poor healing of injection sites
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Ulceration
  • Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Skin discoloration and swelling
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Possibility of revisional surgery
  • Need for further injection therapy
  • Damage to deeper structures — such as nerves, blood vessels and muscles (may be temporary or permanent)

Why Choose Us

If you’re considering vein treatment, look for a physician with specialized training and significant experience performing these procedures. Consider going to a specialist who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as at Cleveland Clinic. Ask your specialist about credentials, training and how many vein treatment procedures he or she has performed.

Is this procedure covered by health insurance?

Many insurance companies do cover the cost of treating varicose veins, but generally not spider veins. If you'd like to learn more about the cost of varicose vein treatment or spider vein treatment, ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain costs of the procedure and if insurance coverage is an option for you.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

Have Questions? Contact the Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center