Sclerotherapy is a skin treatment used to eliminate or reduce small varicose or spider veins.

How Sclerotherpay is Performed

The sclerotherapy process is a dermatological treatment which involves injecting a solution into the vein. The injection may be either liquid or foam and has a base of salt water or hypertonic saline. Other ingredients vary depending on the severity of the vein and the preference of the physician. Some of the other ingredients used include sotradechol, polidocanol, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, and glycerin.

Once the solution is injected, it causes the veins to form scar tissue. This scar tissue forces the blood to find healthier veins. The results are quite remarkable, but take about a month to be visibly apparent.

Reasons for Undergoing Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a skin treatment often done for cosmetic purposes. Varicose veins and spider veins are unsightly even if they are not causing discomfort or other medical problems. Women patients especially want to be able to wear dresses and shorts without notable bulging or purple veins.

Many patients find relief from the aching, swelling and burning feeling that varicose veins can cause. Venous problems also cause poor circulation which may result in painful leg cramps, especially at night. Sclerotherapy also helps alleviate those night cramps.

What are the Potential Side-Effects?

Some of the common and relatively non-serious side-effects include bruising, raised red areas, small skin sores, and dark lines or spots. These side-effects will vary in severity depending on the person, the condition of the veins and site of the injection.


There are conditions resulting from the skin treatment which do require medical attention. Severe inflammation and blood clots may occur. Deep vein thrombosis is a rare complication, but it does happen. Air bubbles in the veins may cause such symptoms as dizziness and headaches. Additionally, some individuals are allergic to the solution used in the sclerotherapy process.

If any of the more serious complications develop, a doctor should be notified immediately.

How to Plan for Your Procedure

The process of sclerotherapy is relatively simple and requires little preparation. It is usually performed in the doctor’s office and takes more than 30 minutes. Usually, the procedure does not require sedation or anesthesia. During the process, the injection site is wrapped in gauze and the legs may be wrapped in elastic.

Most physicians require patients to wait six weeks between sclerotherapy sessions.

If spider veins or varicose veins are impacting your life, have a discussion with your dermatologist or dermatology provider about sclerotherapy.

Risks and Warnings

Usually, the sclerotherapy process is very safe. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are conditions in which sclerotherapy should be avoided due to the ingredients in the solution.

There may be significant swelling and discoloration of the skin which may last from two to six months.