Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure with very little downtime. The procedure is relatively inexpensive compared to surgery or laser treatments, but most importantly is a highly effective treatment for smaller visible veins of the leg and spider veins.
- Leg veins and spider veins increase with age and also appear during pregnancy
- The majority of cases can be successfully treated with sclerotherapy
- Larger veins such as varicose veins are best treated by vascular surgeons
Thread veins and spider veins
Thread and spider veins are located near the surface of the skin and may be red, blue or purple in colour. They are usually less than 1-2 mm in diameter and are not regarded as a serious medical condition.
Varicose veins are larger in diameter and more deeply located than thread or spider veins. They are most commonly blue-green in colour and may cause pain and aching in the legs. These veins are best treated by vascular surgeons as they may be a sign of venous insufficiency.
Sclerotherapy is the most effective treatment for small leg veins and spider veins. This procedure has been conducted since the 1930s and still retains its reputation as the most effective procedure for the removal of small to medium sized veins.
Using a very fine needle, hypertonic saline (sterile, concentrated salt water) is injected into the affected vein. This solution causes swelling in the vein wall and after a period of weeks closes it off from the periphery blood flow, making it much less noticeable or even invisible.
You will experience minimal discomfort during microsclerotherapy injections due to the size of the needle and the superficial injection technique.
The solutions used may differ in strength depending on the size of the vessel to be injected. Your specialist dermatologist will decide which solution is best for your particular case. Most sclerotherapy treatments use hypertonic saline or concentrated salt water as a sclerosant solution.
Following injections, a dressing may be taped over the treated area. Often a special bandage and compression stocking is applied which should be worn for several days to assist thread vein shrinkage.
A single blood vessel may have to be injected more than once, depending on its size.
Repeat injection sessions can be scheduled 1 week later, although it is better to wait several weeks between treatments.
In practice, most patients require 2 to 6 treatments at 2 to 4 week intervals.
You can expect a 75% reduction in spider or thread vein visibility but 100% disappearance rates in all treated veins are rare.
The whole treatment rarely takes longer than half an hour depending on how many veins require treatment.
You will be able to drive home immediately after treatment and continue with your usual daily activities.
Some pain or burning at the injection site may occur following injections. Any bruising improves over the course of a few days.
For a month or so, the treate vessels may appear more prominent. The injection sites look a little like insect bites and may occasionally itch. Your spider and thread veins will gradually begin to fade and continue to improve in appearance for up to 8 weeks after treatment. After this period, a subsequent pale brown discolouration of the surrounding skin may require a number of months to fade.
Complications following microsclerotherapy are very rare. If the hypertonic saline solution escapes the veins it can cause inflammation in the skin surrounding the treated area. There is also a slight risk for the development of tiny ulcers which may leave a small pink or white scar once healing has taken place.
Laser treatment is occassionally performed to diminish the appearance of thread, spider and small leg veins; however, in the majority of cases, sclerotherapy is more effective. For larger veins, endovenous laser ablation is the better option.
Surgery is usually required for larger varicose veins. Dermatologists do not perform vein surgery; these procedures are only performed by vascular surgeons.
The total treatment cost depend on the extent of treatment and the number of sessions required. Your treating dermatologist will give you more accurate pricing information during your consultation.
Sclerotherapy of small veins, thread veins and spider veins is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not eligible for a Medicare or private health insurance rebate.
As Cutis Clinic employs a team of specialist dermatologists, a referral from your GP is advisable as you will then be able to reclaim a percentage of your consultation fee from Medicare or your private health insurer depending on your policy. Call us directly on (07) 3088 6985 to make an appointment or enquire about the referral process.