How do injection treatments work?
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a sclerosant detergent solution through a tiny needle into the diseased vein. This causes the vein wall to collapse. The veins dissolve and disappear as the body gradually absorbs them
What do you inject into the vein?
There are three solutions used in Australia.
Detergent agents are long chain fatty acids and have an excellent safety profile.
1. Sodium Tetradecyl Sulphate (STS) has been available for 50 years and is considered the most potent sclerosing agent. It is used in higher strengths for larger varicose veins, and diluted to a very weak solution for spider veins.
2. Polidocanol has been used in Europe for over 30 years, and in Australia since 1990. It works very well on spider and reticular veins, but is generally not used on larger veins except as a foamed solution.
Hypertonic saline is a strong (20%) salt solution. It is more painful than the above two solutions and is only suitable for tiny veins, up to 2 mm in diameter. Its use on reticular or varicose veins can cause severe leg cramps.
Does the injection procedure hurt?
The amount of discomfort felt varies from person to person. The needles used are extremely fine (similar to acupuncture needles) and many are hardly felt at all. The injected solution can sting slightly for short periods of time. If EVLTTM or ambulatory phlebectomy are used, then minimal discomfort is experienced as they are performed under local anaesthetic.
Do the vein treatments at the Vein & Laser Centre interfere with my work or home duties?
The treatments at the Vein & Laser Centre are walk-in, walk-out procedures. Most treatments take between 20 mins to 1 hour to perform. Following treatment your daily routine should not be disrupted although walking at least 30 min each day while wearing the stocking is required. Heavy physical exercise or workloads should be avoided for about 2 weeks following each treatment.
What happens if I do not treat my veins?
Vein disease is progressive which if left untreated is likely to become worse with time. Increasing symptoms that can occur with untreated varicose veins include leg tiredness, heaviness, aching, throbbing, restlessness, tingling, itching, numbness, bleeding episodes and swelling. More serious complications such as phlebitis, blood clots, dermatitis and venous ulcers can develop if varicose veins are left untreated.
Do I need these veins?
Varicose veins and spider veins are not functional. Once veins become abnormal our body finds alternative pathways with healthy veins to carry blood. You can never run out of veins. The circulation does not miss varicose veins, and in fact, it improves without them.
Will the treated veins come back?
Treated correctly, the veins will not come back, as the body has absorbed them. New veins however, may appear with time. How quickly and how many appear depends on whether you have inherited veins that are more likely to deteriorate. Other factors such as starting the pill, becoming pregnant or occupations with prolonged standing or sitting can affect the development of abnormal veins.
What about topical skin lasers for spider vein treatment?
Despite the proven usefulness in the treatment of large varicose veins using EVLTTM, the treatment of leg veins by laser light to the skin has thus far been disappointing. Currently available lasers can be very useful in treating the tiny cosmetic facial veins, but have been significantly less effective on leg veins compared to expert sclerotherapy. Also, topical laser therapy is far from painless.
Should I wait until I have completed my family?
Becoming pregnant with existing varicose veins will only lead to the veins becoming significantly worse as the pregnancy develops. Phlebologists agree that treatment for varicose veins is best performed before or between pregnancies.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed to clear or improve your condition significantly differs from patient to patient. One to six or more treatments may be necessary. The average is four treatments.
Will all the spider veins disappear when you have finished treating the varicose veins?
Unfortunately no. Most people need a few sessions of microsclerotherapy dedicated to treating the spider veins after the treatment of the varicose veins. Varicose and reticular veins may feed some of the spider veins, and therefore these spider veins will improve to some degree once the larger vein is treated. However, spider veins that are not fed directly by the larger vein will still need to be treated separately. For example, treating the Great Saphenous Vein (inner aspect of the leg) may improve the spider veins on the inside of the ankle, but will not remove the veins on the outer aspect of the leg.
Can I have the treatment close to a major operation?
Operations requiring general anaesthetic are likely to increase your risk of clotting in the deep veins. We recommend you postpone your vein treatment until at least 4 ? 6 weeks after a major operation.
Can I travel before or after my treatments?
Treatments to spider and reticular veins generally do not require any restrictions to your travel arrangements. Following treatments to varicose veins, it is best not to travel long distances (more than five hours) within four weeks before or after your treatment. Long distance travel is defined as any form of travel (car, coach, plane) lasting more than five hours with no break. Shorter trips should be broken down into one hour segments and the compression stocking worn while travelling to prevent deep vein thrombosis. More specific travel guidelines are available from the Centre.