It’s estimated that about one-third of all adults in the United States have at least one varicose vein — those damaged and enlarged veins that are visible just beneath the surface of the skin. Although any vein can become varicose, the veins in your legs and feet are more likely to be affected. At Heart and Vein Center in Lathrup Village, Michigan, vascular surgeon Dr. Rodolfo Farhy uses sclerotherapy to treat many types of varicose veins, including spider veins, right in his office. To learn more, call or book your appointment online today.
Your veins are tasked with returning deoxygenated blood from your extremities back to your heart. To help them complete this essential and continuous process, they have a series of one-way valves designed to keep blood flowing in the right direction.
Weak or damaged valves can cause your blood to backup and pool, making your veins swell until the valve finally relieves the pressure. Repeated pooling and swelling is what leads to the formation of varicose veins.
Varicose veins typically appear to be enlarged or bulging, and are generally purple or blue in color. They occur most often in the lower leg.
Spider veins are a milder type of varicose vein that develop even closer to the surface of your skin. With their distinct web-like look, spider veins are smaller and finer, and usually red or blue in color. They occur most often on leg or facial skin.
Sclerotherapy is widely considered the treatment of choice for small to mid-sized varicose veins as well as bothersome spider veins.
The quick, minimally-invasive procedure involves injecting a hypertonic saline solution directly into the unwanted veins, which ultimately causes them to collapse and fade away.
Sclerotherapy injections work by irritating the affected vein, causing it to swell shut. This forces your blood to reroute through healthy, unblocked veins, leaving the unused vein to eventually cave in and forms scar tissue that your body naturally absorbs.
At The Heart and Vein Center, Dr. Farhy and his team use Sotradecol® and Polydecanol, both of which are FDA-approved for vein sclerotherapy.
Used properly, these injections are safe, effective, and pose little risk of side effects.
Sclerotherapy, which is done in-office and requires virtually no downtime, is especially useful for removing spider veins and preventing complications in varicose veins. Dr. Farhy performs two types of sclerotherapy, depending on the location of the vein he’s treating:
Surface or visual sclerotherapy is the procedure used for veins (usually spider and reticular veins) that can be easily seen with the naked eye.
During this procedure, Dr. Farhy uses an ultra-thin needle to inject the solution into your vein. After the needle is withdrawn, the treatment area is massaged to keep blood out of the vessel and help the solution disperse properly. Injections are continued throughout the course of the vein, as needed.
This procedure relies on ultrasound imaging technology to help locate veins (often called tributaries and perforators) that cannot be seen on the surface of your skin.
For this procedure, Dr. Farhy begins by scanning your legs with the ultrasound equipment to locate the abnormal vein. Once he visualizes the vein on the monitor, he can successfully inject the solution.
As with visual sclerotherapy, the number of injections you’ll need depends on the number and size of the veins you’re targeting; most patients require two to six injections per vein.
Although you will need to wear compression stockings immediately following the procedure and for the next several days, you can resume your normal activities without restriction.
After three or four weeks, you’ll return to the office so Dr. Farhy can examine your veins. If the procedure has worked as anticipated, the treated veins will have dissolved.
If additional treatments are necessary, Dr. Farhy will target the residual veins in a second procedure. While spider veins usually require just one or two treatments, deeper reticular veins and larger varicose veins may require two, three, or even four treatments to dissolve completely.