What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a solution called “sclerosing agent” is injected into the veins for treatment of small vessel varicose disease. Sclerotherapy is typically performed on the legs for conditions such as
- venulectasias, and
- reticular ectasias.
Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, and twisting veins. They appear blue or dark purple. They occur when faulty valves in the veins allow blood to flow in the wrong direction or to pool.
Telangiectasias are widened capillaries that appear as flat, red vessels smaller than 1 mm in diameter.
Venulectasias are tiny veins that are widened and appear blue, sometimes distended above the skin surface, smaller than 2 mm in diameter.
Reticular veins have a bluish discoloration (cyanotic hue), and are 2 mm to 4 mm in diameter.
Large varicosities and tiny varicosities do not respond to sclerotherapy.
What are the types of sclerotherapy?
The agents used in sclerotherapy (sclerosants) include:
- Detergents – they disrupt vein cellular membrane (protein theft denaturation)
- Osmotic agents – they damage the cell by shifting the water balance and cell membrane denaturation
- Chemical irritants –damage the cell membrane by direct, caustic destruction
When is sclerotherapy used?
The main indications for sclerotherapy include:
- improving cosmetic appearance; and
- reducing symptoms such as pain and burning associated with varicosities.
Who shouldn’t get sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is not recommended if you have certain pre-existing conditions:
What are the risks and complications of sclerotherapy?
- Temporary bruising
- Temporary, small blood vessels in the treated area
- Dark skin patches (hyperpigmentation), usually temporary
- Swelling (edema)
- Allergic reactions to the sclerosing agents (itchy, red hives)
- Severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to the sclerosing agents (anaphylaxis)
- Premature death of cells
- Inflammation of veins (thrombophlebitis)
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs)
- Blood clots that may loosen and lodge in the lungs.
- Leg pain or swelling may occur,
- but there may be no symptoms.
- Localized hair growth
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