If you are embarrassed about the appearance of your legs due to unsightly veins, Nashville Vascular and Vein Institute offers a non-surgical therapy to help diminish or remove unwanted varicose or spider veins. Our staff is dedicated to helping you look and feel your best.

What are varicose and spider veins?

Varicose veins are abnormally dilated blood vessels that appear swollen, twisted and can be painful. They occur most commonly in the legs and feet. Spider veins, also known as telangiectasia, are smaller, flat, abnormally dilated visible blood vessels on the skin. These veins appear on the legs and calves and may be blue, purple, or red in color.

Varicose and spider veins are common in women, and can be a result of pregnancy, trauma, obesity, and standing or sitting for long periods. Sclerotherapy is a primary approach for treating the small-vessel varicose disease of the lower extremities.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a medical treatment used to close down superficial veins commonly referred to as “spider veins.” A foam-like medication called sotradecol is injected into a an unsightly vein causing an irritation that will cause the vein to close in on itself. Over a period of several weeks to months, the treated vessels will slowly begin to be re-absorbed and disappear. The number of treatments necessary to clear or improve one’s legs can vary significantly. The average treatment includes three to five sessions. Unfortunately, some veins will be resistant to sclerotherapy and may not respond in a desired manner; however, in most cases enough of the veins that are treated will be minimized leaving the treated area more aesthetically pleasing.

Do Not Use Sclerotherapy If You Are:

  • Pregnant or lactating
  • Allergic to the ingredients of the sclerosing agent known as sotradecol

Commonly Asked Questions

How do I prepare for my appointment?

  • Bring medical history and consent forms that are attached to this email and/or provided on our website
  • Do not take Aspirin or other blood thinning drugs, ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (e.g., arthritis medicine) for 2 days before and 2 days after your treatment because these medications can increase bruising
  • If you take birth control pills or estrogen, please inform the sclerotherapist prior to your appointment
  • We recommend that you do not consume alcohol or smoke for 2 days before and 2 days after your treatment, as healing may be impaired
  • Please eat a light meal or snack prior to your appointment
  • Bring comfortable, loose fitting shorts, slacks, or a skirt to wear after your treatment.

Are there any special instructions that I need to follow after the procedure?

  • Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory medications for the first 48 hours.  Tylenol may be used if needed for pain relief.
  • Wear compression hose during the daytime for the first 3-4 days.  You may bring these to your appointment to put on immediately after the treatment, or we do have them for sale at the office.
  • Avoid any exercise for the first 24 hours.  You may then be as active as you would like to be.
  • Do not take sit in a whirlpool, sauna, or a hot bath for the first 48 hours.  You may take a shower with water that is cooler than usual.
  • Apply sunscreen and avoid direct exposure to sunlight for the first two weeks.  This includes tanning beds.
  • Please return for a follow up appointment after 4 weeks of your treatment.  At this time you may receive more injections and “trapped blood” may be released.  While annoying, trapped blood is an expected and desired response to treatment.
  • No flying for 48 hours after treatment.
  • No smoking or alcohol for 48 hours after treatment.
  • If scabbing or ulcerations develop at an injection site, please call the office immediately for an appointment.
  • If you develop fever or other illness before appointment, you must reschedule.

Does sclerotherapy work for everyone?

The majority of people who have sclerotherapy will see improvements.  Unfortunately, there is no guarantee for it to be effective in every case.  In very rare cases, the condition may worsen after treatment and leave a stained area around the vein.  Blood can get trapped in portions of the vein, although this can be released by injecting a small needle at the site.

How many sessions will I need?

The number of sessions needed to clear or improve the condition differs from patient to patient, depending on the extent of spider veins present, the location of the veins, and skin color.  An average of 4 to 5 sessions may be needed.  These sessions need to be scheduled 4-6 weeks apart.

Are there any complications or risks from sclerotherapy?

  • Post treatment pain, swelling, redness and bruising at the injection site:  The site may be tender to the touch and usually lasts for the first 24 hours.  The pain could last from 1 to 7 days.  Tylenol may be used for pain relief.  A red area may appear at the injection site and should go away within a few days.
  • Ulcers:  An ulcer is a small sore caused by medication irritating the skin.  This is rare but it can occur with any injection.  The ulcer will heal up completely but it could take 1 to 2 months.  Call the office if an ulcer or blister appears at the injection site.
  • Itching:  Moderate itching could last for about 1 to 2 days.
  • Allergic Reaction:  An allergic reaction could occur from the sclerosing agent but it is very rare.  The risk of an allergic reaction is greater in patients with a history of allergies.
  • Blood accumulation within the treated veins:  Trapped blood may create a bump at the injection site.  This will go away within a few weeks or months.  It can be removed with a tiny needle to expedite the healing process.
  • Hyperpigmentation:  This skin staining can occur by iron from your own blood that leaks into the skin.  It normally fades away but can take up to 6 months.  In rare cases the hyperpigmentation may be permanent.  It must be noted that in almost every case the veins become swollen, irritated, and darker immediately after the procedure.
  • Lumpy veins: The veins may become lumpy or hard for several weeks to months before resolving.  In the meantime they could be tender.
  • Occurrence of a blush:  This is called matting and is a response of your body to the treatments.  It looks like a “slap of the hand” and it can last up to 4 weeks.
  • Reoccurrence of spider veins: Once a vein is treated it does not have the capability of coming back.  Many patients come in every year or two years since these patients have a tendency to develop spider veins.