What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to treat varicose veins and "spider veins." During sclerotherapy, the physician injects a solution directly into the affected vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view. Sclerotherapy is a well-proven procedure and has been used since the 1930s.

How successful is sclerotherapy in treating varicose and spider veins?

Sclerotherapy works well for most patients. It is estimated that between 50 and 80% of injected veins may be eliminated with each session. A few people (less than 10%) who have sclerotherapy do not respond to the injections at all. In these instances, different solutions or a different method, such as laser therapy, may be tried.

In general, spider veins respond to treatment in 3 to 6 weeks, and larger veins respond in 3 to 4 months. If the veins respond to the treatment, usually they will not reappear. However, new veins may appear over time. If needed, you may return for injections.

How will I know if I am a candidate for sclerotherapy?

Before the procedure, you will meet with a vascular specialist who will evaluate your eligibility for sclerotherapy.

You are not eligible for sclerotherapy if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are bedridden. You must wait at least 3 months after delivery before you can be considered for this procedure.

You can have sclerotherapy if you take birth control pills. If you have had a blood clot in the past, your eligibility for sclerotherapy will depend on what caused the clot, and how serious it was.

Veins that might be used for future surgical bypass procedures (such as the saphenous vein for coronary artery bypass graft surgery) will generally not be considered for injection, unless they are already deemed unusable.