Sclerotherapy ‘I don’t like these ugly veins’

Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful. I just know what to do with them.
— Marlene Dietrich

We have all heard the saying: “I have a circulation problem.”  All “circulation” problems are not the same, and clearly, a medical professional is needed to evaluate what is required.

Varicose veins, which are more superficial, can be treated with sclerotherapy and or laser therapy. For the purpose of this article, we will discuss sclerotherapy.

Varicose veins are caused by the inability of blood to return from the legs, back up to the heart because the valves are not functioning. As a result, the blood collects and the bulging, or distension of the veins, causes a back pressure and all the veins that are connected in turn get bigger. They can be painful, but even worse, they are not so cute.

Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution directly into the culprit vein. The solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and stick together. Over time, the vessel will scar, and fade.

Who asks for sclerotherapy?

• “I hate these legs. I am always trying to hide them.”

• “My legs are aching, burning, throbbing, itchy, feel heavy, and full.”

• “Symptoms improve only when I lie down.”

• “The veins are worse when pregnant, or prior to the menstrual period.”

Who cannot have this procedure?

You are not eligible if you have the following issues:

• Pregnancy;

• Possibility of heart bypass surgery (they may require those veins for your heart);

• Recent diagnosis of blood clots;

• On Coumadin;

• Inability to walk;

• Infection or rash to the legs;

• Prior failures with sclerotherapy;

• Unable to afford a series of treatments.

Preparation for treatment

Avoid anti-inflammatories like aspirin and herbal medications. No lotion should be put on the legs the morning of the treatment. Compression stockings will need to be bought before the procedure, to be worn on the way home.

After treatment

Showers are permitted, but the water should be cooler than usual. A mild soap can be used to wash the injection sites. The compression stockings should be worn all day and all night, otherwise the physician will advise for how long.

For 48 hours, there should be no:

• Hot baths;

• Hot compresses;

• Whirlpools or saunas;

• Direct exposure to sunlight;

Will it last?

Veins that respond to treatment will not reappear. Fifty to 80 per cent of injected veins will respond to each session of sclerotherapy. Less than 10 per cent of the people who have sclerotherapy do not respond to the injections at all. In essence, most people respond, but as life is, in everything there are no guarantees for success.

So, remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that beholder is you!