Over 50% of Americans suffer from varicose or spider veins. Unfortunately, these disordered veins are often accompanied by such side effects as pain, itchiness, discoloration, discomfort, and reduced self-confidence. At O’Donnell Vein & Laser in Annapolis, MD, we offer sclerotherapy to help our clients improve their circulation, self-confidence, and quality of life. Here’s what you need to know about this life-changing treatment.
Everything You Need To Know About Sclerotherapy
What To Expect During Treatment
When you come in for your session, you will be asked to lie on your back. If your disordered veins are in your legs, we will elevate your legs above your heart to improve your circulation during the session. Regardless of where your disordered veins are, the treatment area will be elevated above your heart to support sufficient circulation. The injection sites will be disinfected once you are sitting or lying with the targeted area above your heart.
Once the injection sites are disinfected, we will inject a sclerosant solution into the targeted veins’ walls. After that, we will gently massage the treated area so blood doesn’t get into the irritated veins. Depending on the scope of your treatment, your session may last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Your treatment may take over half of an hour to complete if you have varicose veins in several regions of your body or your veins are particularly large and twisted.
This Treatment Isn’t Painful
Another thing you need to know about this treatment is it is not painful at all. You don’t need general anesthesia to remain comfortable throughout the treatment process, and there will be no extensive observation period once your injection session is complete. Rather, you will be free to return to your usual routine.
How This Treatment Works
Sclerotherapy is an FDA-approved vein removal method designed to treat both spider and varicose veins. It works by irritating the disordered veins with a sclerosant solution until they collapse. Once your treated veins collapse, they starve to death because blood can’t flow through them anymore. Your symptoms will improve before your collapsed veins even starve to death because the blood starts to flow through strong, healthy veins as soon as the veins they were flowing through collapse.
The Right Time for Treatment
You should seek treatment for your spider or varicose veins if you are suffering from symptoms that are affecting your quality of life negatively. For instance, the time to seek treatment is now if you can’t walk as far as you used to because your legs feel overwhelmingly heavy and sore. Likewise, the time to seek treatment is now if itchiness prevents you from sleeping at night and you struggle to keep the affected area moisturized.
That said, now may be the right time for treatment if the only physical symptom you have is the appearance of spider or varicose veins. If the appearance of your disordered veins is causing you to feel self-conscious, we strongly encourage you to seek treatment. You deserve to feel self-confident.
What to Expect Before Treatment
You need to come in for an initial consultation to ensure sclerotherapy is right for you. During this initial consultation, we will evaluate your problem areas to ensure this treatment will be effective. Then, we will discuss your health history and the drugs and supplements you regularly take to ensure this treatment will be safe for you. Once we determine you are healthy enough to receive this treatment, we will give you instructions regarding how to prepare for this treatment.
How To Prepare for Sclerotherapy
Your lifestyle will determine the steps you need to take to prepare for this vein removal treatment. The drugs and supplements you take regularly will also affect the preparation instructions you receive. To prepare for this treatment, you should stop taking any drugs or dietary supplements that thin your blood. Additionally, you should stop consuming tobacco products and alcohol for several days in advance of your treatment.
You must be well-hydrated and nourished when you come in for your scheduled injection session. Additionally, it is advisable to wear loose, comfortable clothes. If you’re treating varicose or spider veins in your lower legs, consider wearing shorts to your appointment. Additionally, your skin should be free from cosmetics, like lotion, when you come in for your appointment. Finally, you should avoid shaving the treatment area on the day of your session and take steps to prevent sunburn.
What To Expect During Your Recovery Period
You should expect your recovery process to be rapid and comfortable. It is highly recommended to wear prescription-strength compression garments during the first 14 days following your injection session. This will support your circulatory system and help you see the final results of your treatment faster. Furthermore, you should protect your skin from the sun, avoid excessive heat and refrain from strenuous exercise during the first 72 hours after your injections.
It is important to note that you won’t see the final results of your treatment right away despite enjoying immediate symptom relief. Once the treated veins have starved to death, they will be less noticeable. That said, it takes a while for the surrounding healthy tissues to absorb the dead veins. They won’t disappear completely until they have been absorbed fully by nearby tissues.
The Cause of Disordered Veins
Veins circulate blood throughout your body. First, the blood is pumped from the heart, delivering hydration and essential micronutrients to areas that need them. Then, the blood is returned to the heart. When the veins in your lower legs start to break down, blood starts to pool in the weak veins. This causes extensive swelling. When the veins become too turgid, you will experience such symptoms as pain, discomfort or burning. Other common side effects include:
- Extreme weakness
- Localized muscle cramping
- Moderate-to-severe edema
- Skin dryness
- Extreme itchiness
- Skin discoloration
Your genes affect whether you will develop disordered veins. Your chances of developing varicose or spider veins increase significantly if you have an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with a vein disorder. Ask your parents, grandparents or siblings if they have ever been diagnosed with a vein disorder if you’re not familiar with their medical history. You may also benefit from asking your parents for a detailed account of their medical history.
Note this information and keep it on your person or in your vehicle. You never know when you will need to know about your family medical history. Furthermore, research has shown that tall people are more likely to develop varicose veins than short people because their blood has to travel farther to return to the heart. This extra work fighting against the force of gravity weakens the veins in the lower extremities, significantly increasing the risk of future degradation.
Your lifestyle can also affect your likelihood of developing varicose veins in the future. If you have a sedentary job and come home to sit on the couch, you are far more likely to develop varicose veins. That said, you can mitigate your risk of developing future varicose veins by being more active. Whether you sit or stand for long periods of time at work, your vein health is not being supported.
If you don’t have an active job, make sure you are getting at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. You can fit this into your schedule fairly easily by going on a 30-minute walk on your lunch break at a moderate intensity. If you feel like you don’t have time to walk during your lunch break, you can get five 15-minute workout sessions in. Just make sure these are vigorous workouts.
Your Body Fat Percentage
Your risk of developing varicose veins in the future increases as your body fat percentage increases. The more adipose tissue you carry, the more blood your body has. When there is extra blood in your body due to your body fat percentage, too much pressure is exerted on the valves that keep your blood from pooling.
Furthermore, fat exerts external pressure on your leg veins, particularly abdominal fat. If you’re obese, losing weight will drastically reduce your risk of developing a number of medical conditions, including varicose veins. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim for five hours of moderate exercise or 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise weekly. Just be sure to check with your doctor first to make sure you can safely perform certain exercises at certain intensities. Also, watch your diet.
Your diet is another factor that plays a significant role in causing the development of varicose veins. The likelihood that you will develop varicose veins increases drastically when you have high blood pressure. We recommend purchasing a blood pressure monitor cuff and monitoring your blood pressure regularly. If you have high blood pressure, you should eliminate caffeine and get your energy from nutritious foods and regular walks.
If you can’t eliminate caffeine from your diet, make sure you’re consuming no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine daily from all sources. In some cases, you should not consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine daily from medications, foods and beverages. Furthermore, reducing your sodium intake will help to normalize your blood pressure. Additionally, the effects of sodium can be minimized by increasing your potassium consumption. Great sources of potassium include bananas, tuna, and unsalted almonds.
Congenital Valve Dysfunction
Congenital valve dysfunction describes heart valves that did not fully develop in the womb. Unfortunately, one side effect of this condition is valves that can’t completely shut. This becomes particularly problematic with veins because the valves in your veins stop blood from leaking.
When valves allow blood to leak, blood pools in the area. This blood pooling leads to a number of problems, ranging from mild skin discoloration to intense, painful pressure. It can also lead to extensive swelling.
Varicose and Spider Veins
A number of vein disorders can occur due to genetics and lifestyle choices. That said, the two most common vein disorder types are varicose veins and spider veins. While similar, spider veins are much smaller in diameter and usually develop closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins.
Learn More Today
Sclerotherapy is an ideal way to improve your circulation. After a short, painless injection session, disordered veins will collapse and blood will be rerouted to healthier veins that are strong enough to return your blood from your lower extremities to your heart. Contact us today at O’Donnell Vein & Laser in Annapolis, MD to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about this life-changing, circulation-supporting treatment.