What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a modern walk in walk out treatment for varicose veins. It is usually used to treat the smaller veins from your legs including thread and spider veins.

It’s a simple non-surgical procedure that is usually performed under local anaesthetic and takes around 30 to 40 minutes.

What are varicose and thread veins?

The appearance of varicose veins is very common. They are swollen, twisted and sometimes lumpy veins that are often dark purple or blue and can be seen just under the surface of your skin.

Thread veins are similar to varicose veins but they’re smaller, often red or blue and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They usually appear on your thighs and ankles.

Why do varicose and thread veins appear?

You have one-way valves in your veins that support the upward flow of blood back to your heart. Varicose veins appear when these valves stop working properly and the blood then flows the wrong way and cause your veins to swell forming varicose veins.

Varicose and thread veins are often hereditary, but they can also be caused by hormonal changes (including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, using birth control pills and HRT), obesity, ageing, standing for long periods of time and leg injuries to the skin. Women are more likely to develop them.

What are the symptoms of varicose and thread veins?

Varicose and thread veins may not have any symptoms other than their unsightly appearance that may lead to self-consciousness and embarrassment. Sometimes they may cause mild to moderate pain, aching, and heaviness of the legs which worsens as the day progresses. If untreated they won’t get better and may over time get worse and eventually lead to other complications.

When should I seek treatment?

If you have varicose or thread veins that are causing you pain, then it’s advisable to seek medical help and treatment. Often people are troubled by varicose or thread veins for years before they see a doctor and it may only be when they develop further complications that they seek help. Modern non-surgical treatment for varicose and thread veins is straightforward and effective.

Unattractive varicose and thread veins can cause people distress. Ramsay Health Care UK understands people’s desire to remove these for aesthetic reasons and we treat varicose and thread veins for cosmetic reasons.

Our experienced vascular surgeons offer convenient and local appointments for sclerotherapy treatment of varicose and thread veins.

What happens during the procedure?

Sclerotherapy aims to destroy these visible and/or painful varicose and thread veins. Your blood will then reroute through healthier veins.

During treatment a liquid, often in a foam state, is injected using very fine needles into your varicose or thread vein. This is often performed under ultrasound guidance if your vein is deep and is known as ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy. The liquid, called a sclerosant, will damage the internal lining of your vein and cause it to collapse. It will then be reabsorbed into local tissue and fade within a few weeks, with full results after a month. Sometimes more sclerotherapy treatments are needed for your vein to fade. There is a chance the vein may reappear.

If required, your vascular surgeon can treat more than one vein at a time.  

What does the injection feel like?

The injection is not painful. Your leg may ache for a few minutes when larger veins are injected but normally you won’t have any unusual feelings in your leg.

What should I expect after the procedure?

Soon after the procedure you'll be able to get up and walk around and you should remain mobile during your recovery. You’ll need to wear compression stockings or bandages for a minimum of two weeks to maintain compression on your treated veins. Your leg may feel sore for a few days after sclerotherapy.

What are the benefits of sclerotherapy?

There are a number of benefits of sclerotherapy including:

  • It’s a non-surgical technique to combat varicose and thread veins.
  • Treatment is performed quickly, usually within 30 to 40 minutes.
  • It’s a walk in walk out procedure so you can arrive just 30 minutes beforehand and leave 30 minutes afterwards.
  • There is no downtime.
  • It’s a fast and effective method of varicose and thread vein removal.
  • You will experience minimal scarring and pain.

What are the risks of sclerotherapy?

As the skin is being penetrated this procedure carries a risk of infection. Other risks include: the formation of blood clots in the veins, inflammation across the vein site, adverse allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution and skin damage and discolouration.

How to book sclerotherapy treatment at Ramsay Health Care UK

You can book a private appointment directly with your local Ramsay Health Care UK hospital. You do not require a GP referral for this treatment.

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