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How is sclerotherapy performed?

Sclerotherapy is done in the office setting. After cleaning your skin, your doctor will inject a spider vein or small varicose vein using a very small needle. A small amount of fluid is injected into the vein which causes it to close. The blood is then rerouted by your body to the nearest healthy vein.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

Dr. Arthur W. Perry, MD
Cosmetic Surgeon

Before the sclerotherapy treatment, patients hydrate by drinking half a liter of pure water. If they are anxious, they are given oral Valium and codeine prior to the procedure. No anesthesia is used, since a large area is treated in each session. The skin is cleaned with alcohol, which also dilates the blood vessels, making them more visible.

A tiny needle is placed inside an individual capillary. Usually, magnification helps visualize the blood vessel. The technique requires great skill and an extremely steady hand. A small squirt of saline is injected inside the capillary, causing a dramatic clearing of the spider vein. I know I've done well when my nurse says "wow." If the right portion of the capillary is entered, several square centimeters of connecting capillaries can be treated with a single injection.

I work my way around the front of both thighs and legs and then turn the patient on her belly. Next, I treat the backs of the thighs and legs. The most noticeable spider veins are treated in the first session, then progressively smaller vessels in subsequent sessions.

After a capillary is injected, my nurse applies a small piece of foam tape. I inject a maximum of five milliliters of hypertonic saline, giving the patient as much salt as she would get in three and a half portions of large French fries at McDonald's.

Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

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Sclerotherapy might seem overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. In this video, vascular surgeon Dr. Steve Elias offers a thorough description of what happens during sclerotherapy treatment for varicose veins.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.