Treatment of Veins by Injection Sclerotherapy

varicose veins

Injection sclerotherapy is an out-patient procedure to treat either large varicose veins, or small thread veins (telangiectasia) – also known as spider veins, broken veins, flare veins, & hyphen webs. Varicose veins often cause symptoms and look unsightly. Thread veins do not usually cause symptoms and are not at all harmful, but often cause concern about appearance.

Certain chemicals such as Sodium Tetradecyl Sulphate (STD*) or Aethoxysklerol can be injected into these veins causing them to disappear or shrink. Injections into thread veins will cause your skin to become slightly swollen, inflamed and uncomfortable. The discomfort usually lasts for a few days. The skin inflammation usually improves over several weeks. At first, the appearance of your skin will be worse than before the treatment, but then there should be a gradual improvement, often after about 6-8 weeks.

There are several important things to consider before deciding to have injection treatment. First, you may need several treatment sessions to achieve a satisfactory improvement. Second, although injection sclerotherapy is usually successful in reducing the unsightly appearance of thread veins, it is not a “cure”, in other words a permanent elimination of veins is not a realistic expectation and you might not be satisfied with the amount of improvement.

typical thread veins in the thigh
Typical thread veins in the thigh

Veins can also come back again in the future, but of course these can usually be treated. Third, although injection sclerotherapy is generally considered to be very safe, there are a few risks, and the important ones are listed below. It is even possible, although very unlikely, that you will think your skin appearance is worse after the treatment than before.

1. Pigmentation (a brown staining) – Some degree of pigmentation is noticed in to up to 30% of patients after treatment, but this usually clears satisfactorily during the first few months. However, up to 10% of patients will still have some degree of pigmentation a year after treatment. Please let me know of any medication you are taking that might affect pigmentation. You should also protect your skin from the sun for up to six weeks following treatment to reduce the severity of pigmentation.

2. Matting. In up to 20% of patients there can be a reaction where tiny red thread veins appear at the injection site. This is called telangiectatic matting. Some people feel this as an uncomfortable swelling sensation. It usually clears within 6 months.

3. Ulceration. There is a very small chance of an ulcer or “sore” developing at the injection site. This may heal with a small irregular scar.

4. Infection. This is almost never reported and if it did occur should respond to antibiotics.

5. Allergic reactions. Like all chemicals, STD and Aethoxysklerol can cause a serious and even life-threatening reaction in around 1 in 20,000 patients treated, hence the importance of having treatment in a hospital.

Please don’t forget that there are alternatives to having this procedure such as accepting your present skin condition, using cosmetics to conceal the problem, and skin laser treatment.