If you suffer from varicose or spider veins, you may opt for sclerotherapy. The procedure involves an injection into the vein that causes the blood vessel to collapse and eventually turn to scar tissue that is not visible through the skin. The procedure has been around for nearly a century. While most people with varicose and spider veins are candidates for the procedure, a consultation with a doctor can help you determine if it is right for you. Pregnancy and some history of blood clots may exclude you.
If you are a candidate, you may be curious about what you can expect after the procedure, from side effects to how long before you can return to normal everyday activities.
One major concern after sclerotherapy is side effects. Fortunately, most people only experience mild ones, such as itching for a day or two after the procedure. You may also have redness or bruising at the site of the injection. Some people may experience some unusual changes to the skin, such as brown lines or spots near the treatment area or the development of tiny blood vessels, but these changes typically disappear within 3 to 12 months.
Resuming Normal Activities
Another question many people have about the procedure is when they can return to work. The answer is that you can possibly go to work later that day or the next day with your doctor’s approval. Most people drive themselves home and do not see any disruption to their normal routines. However, you may be asked to take a few days off from jogging or any exercise that puts added pressure on your veins.
Your doctor may recommend that you walk as much as possible in the days that follow your sclerotherapy procedure. This is a great way to improve your circulation and promote healing. Your doctor may also suggest you wear compression stockings for a while after the procedure. He or she will talk to you about whether you need mild, moderate, firm, or extra firm compression.
What to Avoid After the Procedure
While you can resume most normal activities the day after your procedure, your doctor will tell you to avoid some things for at least 48 hours. They include:
- Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other type of anti-inflammatory drug.
- Strenuous exercise, such as jogging, weight-lifting, jumping, and sports like tennis and basketball
- Hot baths and showers
- Applying a hot compress to the treated area
- Whirlpools and saunas
- Exposure to direct sunlight
Many people ask about complications of sclerotherapy. The truth is that there are a few, but they are extremely rare. Talking to your doctor about your concerns at your initial consultation can even help prevent them. They include:
- Allergic reactions to the solution: To avoid this, be sure to tell your doctor about any allergies you have. He or she will also usually do a test to see if you have an allergic reaction to the solution.
- Ulceration at the injection site: This will typically heal within a month or two and leave only a small scar.
- Blood clots in the lungs or deep vein: This is the rarest complication. If you have a history of blood clots, talk to your doctor about it before the procedure.