Sclerotherapy is a technique which involves the use of a very fine needle to inject a solution (sclerosant) directly into the veins. The solution causes the lining of the vein swell, eventually sealing off the blood vessel and preventing blood flow.
Prior to treatment, a complete medical history is taken and a thorough examination made in order to determine, among other things, how long the problem has existed, the severity of the symptoms, whether or not the condition is affected by physical activity, and if there has been prior surgery or treatment of the veins. The physician determines if the deep venous system is affected, in which case surgery may be recommended before sclerotherapy is undertaken. Preoperative instructions may include the elimination of certain drugs which contain aspirin in order to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding. The physician decides whether or not the area to be treated should be shaved. The veins are usually marked while the patient is in a standing position.
Larger veins are usually treated first. After the skin is thoroughly cleansed with alcohol, the physician uses a syringe with a tiny needle to inject a small amount of sclerosing (hardening) solution directly into a vein.
The solution displaces the blood within the vein, causing it to blanch or turn white. The solution then causes the vessel to become irritated and swell shut, prohibiting the blood from reentering the vein. When the needle is withdrawn, pressure is immediately applied to the area. The skin may be kneaded to help disperse the solution and reduce bruising. Each vein may require several injections and most disappear in two weeks to two months.
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