Spider veins, reticular veins, and small varicose veins cause cosmetic and sometimes medical concerns for many people. Whether the issue is one of robbing self-confidence or experiencing discomfort, the preferred way to treat these conditions is a procedure called sclerotherapy. Physicians have come to refer to it as the so-called gold standard of treatment for spider veins.
What Happens During This Vein Treatment?
The use of sclerosing agents as a treatment for problem veins has been common in the United States since the 1930s, the Cleveland Clinic reports. More than 90 percent of patients have a positive response to the procedure. A vein specialist is able to work on up to 80 percent of diseased veins during one session.
Most people have acquaintances or family members who have undergone this type of vein treatment. As a matter of fact, as many as 40 percent of U.S. women and 25 percent of men experience vascular problems in their lower legs, according to the University of Virginia Health System.
A vascular surgeon performs this procedure as an outpatient service, normally at a vein clinic. Depending on the exact condition of the patient, it might be necessary to use ultrasound beforehand to locate all vessels that require treatment.
The vein doctor begins by cleansing the area around the targeted vessel. Using a very small needle, the physician injects a special substance called a sclerosing agent, which is manufactured as a liquid or a foam.
This agent serves as an irritant to the vein, causing its walls to collapse, The University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) explains. When the vein has closed completely, it begins to fade and eventually becomes invisible through the skin. Blood then circulates through vessels nearby.
While this technology is highly effective in treating spider veins and other small diseased vessels, patients should note that it cannot stop new veins from developing. It might be necessary to undergo several sessions to treat all affected veins. Because new ones sometimes appear, it’s not unusual for individuals to return for periodic treatments.
What Makes a Good Candidate?
A vascular surgeon determines during an initial consultation whether a prospective patient is an acceptable candidate for this type of treatment. Good candidates are people with these traits, UCM reports:
- Have realistic expectations
- Fall between the ages of 30 and 60
- Are not pregnant or breastfeeding for a period of three months
- Are able to follow instructions both before and after the procedure
- Understand that the procedure will not prevent the development of new veins
The Cleveland Clinic adds these criteria:
- Having a history of a blood clot or clotting issues mandates special evaluation
- A candidate must not be bedridden
- Veins usable for potential future bypasses cannot be treated
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