Varicose veins are twisted, swollen veins caused by defective valves in the vein. This leads to pooling of blood in these superficial veins of the leg, and hence distortion and swelling.
Obesity, hormones during pregnancy or menopause, or increased pelvic vein pressure can all accelerate the formation of varicose veins. They can run in families and are more common in women.
Sclerotherapy is a very cost-effective procedure that seldom leaves a scar or produces adverse effects. It is typically performed on an outpatient basis by a dermatologic surgeon. A concentrated saline or specially developed chemical solution is injected with a very small needle into the spider or varicose vein. The solution causes the vein to close up or collapse and is eventually absorbed by the body. The work of carrying the blood is shifted to other healthy blood vessels nearby.
Sclerotherapy generally requires multiple treatment sessions. One to three injections are usually required to effectively treat any vein. The same area should not be retreated for four to six weeks to allow for complete healing, although other areas may undergo treatment during this time. Many dermatologic surgeons have found that treating all abnormal veins in one session gives the best results.
Post-treatment therapy includes wearing bandages and support hose for two days to three weeks (most commonly one week) following treatment. Walking and moderate exercise also helps speed recovery. Although sclerotherapy works for existing spider and varicose veins, it does not prevent new ones from developing but may decrease this risk.