Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat small diseased or cosmetically undesirable veins close to the surface of the skin. The physician injects a liquid called a sclerosing solution (usually a concentrated saline solution) into the diseased vein, which causes an inflammatory reaction in the tissues lining the veins. As a result the vein closes, blood reroutes to healthy veins, and the diseased vein eventually disappears.

How do I get ready for the procedure?

On the night before the procedure eat a light meal, then do not eat or drink anything after midnight. We will provide you with more detailed information about which medications you may take in days before and on the morning of the procedure. Plan to have someone accompany you home after the procedure.

What will happen during the procedure?

Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure, which we perform in our interventional radiology suite. After determining the location and contours of the veins using ultrasound guidance, we will use a very fine needle to inject the solution into them. You may feel some mild discomfort and cramping for a minute or two after the injection. Depending on the size of the area to be treated we may do several injections during your procedure. In some cases we need to schedule an additional sclerotherapy session. The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

Are there any risks?

Common side effects resulting from sclerotherapy include temporary bruising, itching, and inflammation at the injection site, ankle swelling, scarring that can cause lumps near the vein, and the appearance of new spider veins near the injection site. Rare, serious complications include deep vein thrombosis, which causes generalized swelling in the leg below the injection site, and blockage of an artery, a medical emergency.

After the procedure

You may need to elevate your leg for one to two hours after treatment. Otherwise, you can resume normal activities immediately. We usually recommend walking in the days following the procedure because it increases leg circulation and helps prevent blood clots in other veins. You may need to wear compression stockings or bandages daily for up to three weeks after treatment.