Treatments & Therapies

Variceal sclerotherapy – treatment, effects & risks

Variceal sclerotherapy

Most people develop varicose veins (varicose veins) over the course of their lives due to changes in the veins . Anyone who suffers from it and wants to get rid of it has various treatment techniques to choose from. For smaller varicose veins, sclerotherapy is an option.

What is variceal sclerotherapy?

Varicose veins are not just a cosmetic problem, they can also have health consequences, including thrombosis and leg ulcers , especially if they are larger varicose veins . That is why it makes sense to treat them in a timely manner. Various non-surgical and surgical methods are available for treatment.

One of these procedures is sclerotherapy of the varicose veins ( variceal sclerotherapy ), also known as sclerotherapy . During sclerosing, a sclerosing agent is injected into the vein and artificially triggers an inflammation inside the vein. This causes the inner walls of the vein to stick together and scar. It is mainly used to treat spider veins and smaller varicose veins. A liquid agent is injected for spider veins, and foam for smaller varicose veins . Several sessions are usually required for successful treatment.

Function, effect & goals

Smaller spider veins, superficial enlargements of the veins, and varicose veins that are not that large can be treated well with sclerotherapy. No hospital stay is necessary for the sclerotherapy of varicose veins, it can be carried out on an outpatient basis. However, it only makes sense if the blood flow back to the heart in the veins of the legs is not obstructed. Before the first session, a compression stocking must be worn for about 2 days to ensure that the fit is correct before the sclerotherapy.

During the treatment, the veins are punctured and then a liquid sclerosing agent (foam for larger varicose veins) is injected into the veins, which is intended to clog and scar the inner walls of the vein through an artificially caused inflammation. After the injection, patients are given a compression bandage and asked to walk around for at least half an hour. You don’t have to restrict yourself physically and you can go straight back to work. It is in the spirit of the therapy to move a lot. Standing and sitting is less favourable. The bandage can usually be removed the same evening and replaced with the compression stocking .

It must be worn consistently every day for the next few days. The patient must bring the bandage back to the follow-up sessions. A control examination takes place 2 to 5 days after the sclerotherapy. When the treatment is complete, the stocking must be worn regularly for another 4 to 6 weeks. The function of the veins is checked again 3 to 6 months after the sclerotherapy. Variceal sclerotherapy is a relatively painless procedure and offers the advantage that it can be repeated if necessary. A repeat is necessary in most cases because the predisposition to varicose veins persists despite the treatment. Before sclerotherapy, it should therefore be carefully checked whether it is the most suitable treatment method.

Whether a liquid sclerosing agent or a foam is injected depends on the size of the varicose veins. A liquid agent is usually sufficient for spider veins. For larger ones, foam has proven to be more effective. Variceal sclerotherapy is one of the oldest and best methods for smaller varicose veins such as spider veins. As technology continues to advance, the range of treatments for variceal sclerotherapy will certainly be expanded in the future. Compared to other treatment methods for varicose veins, sclerotherapy offers the advantage that it is largely painless and can be carried out on an outpatient basis.

Apart from the need to wear the compression stocking, the patients usually have no further restrictions and can go about their everyday life as normal. At best, they have to accept that if they are predisposed to varicose veins, the treatment will have to be repeated for a few years.

Risks, side effects & dangers

Even if variceal sclerotherapy is a relatively low-risk treatment method, there are certain contraindications that limit its use:

Apart from the contraindications, side effects when varicose veins are sclerosed are rather rare. Injecting the sclerosant can cause a slight burning pain for a few seconds, and sometimes small bruises or a mild but harmless phlebitis result from the sclerosing . The desolate area reacts like a bruise. It first turns blue, then green and yellow until it is no longer visible. Sometimes the skin at the puncture site turns brown, but the discoloration will disappear over the next few months.

In very rare cases, the puncture site can become infected and leave a small scar . Even rarer is venous thrombosis of the inner leg veins or the injection accidentally hits an artery with the risk of tissue death. Allergic reactions to sclerosing agents or bandages are also rare. It is very important to move a lot immediately after the sclerotherapy, sitting or standing is unfavorable. Anyone who loves going to the sauna or solarium should take at least a week to 10 days off.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.