Varicose veins are swollen, twisted unsightly veins with faulty non-return valves. Impaired blood flow in these veins causes aching, itching, heaviness and also skin damage such as eczema and even ulceration. Varicose veins do not heal spontaneously and invariably deteriorate over time.
Some veins are very small – such as these:
They are best trated with LASER as they are too small to be injected.
But the slightly bigger veins, such as these:
need an injectable treatment called sclerotherapy.
ADVANTAGES OF FOAM SCLEROTHERAPY
- Avoids the need for hospital admission, surgery and general anaesthesia.
- Results in minor discomfort during treatment and only minimal bruising compared with surgery.
- All treatment is performed as an outpatient and little or no time is required off work.
- Much less expensive than varicose vein surgery.
DISADVANTAGES OF FOAM SCLEROTHERAPY
- Usually only one leg is treated per appointment (with surgery both legs may be treated simultaneously).
- More clinic attendances required than for surgical treatment (usually 3-4 appointments if both legs are treated).
- A few months is required for final outcome to be obtained with resolution of all bruising and uncomfortable lumpiness.
- Brown skin staining can take a long time to fade, occasionally still being present after a year (surgery can also cause this, although less often than sclerotherapy)
- Thread veins may develop in the region of treatment in susceptible people. These may be treated by Laser, if necessary. (These may also appear following surgical treatment for varicose veins).
- Your colour duplex ultrasound scan will also help guide your Surgeon in the choice of treatment – some veins are more suited to this treatment than others.
PREPARING FOR TREATMENT
Please bathe as normal prior to treatment but avoid any lotions / perfumes. Wear loose clothing and soft shoes (your leg will be bandaged). You may want a friend to drive you home. You will have the opportunity to ask further questions at the clinic before giving your written consent to treatment.
HOW IS THIS TREATMENT GIVEN?
Foam sclerotherapy is performed lying on a couch in the consulting room. The foam is prepared and injected into the vein. The foam rapidly spreads along the vein. Injection of foam continues as the foam spreads into the varicose veins. Several injections of foam may be needed. Additional injections can be given during follow-up visits to treat any veins that the foam has not reached initially.
WHAT DOES THE INJECTION FEEL LIKE?
Often very little sensation or sometimes minor discomfort.
Following foam injections, we apply a firm bandage and compression stocking to the leg. The bandage can be removed after 7 – 10 days. A strong elastic stocking should be worn continuously until your next appointment (usually about a fortnight).
After treatment carry on with your usual activities. Avoid vigorous exercise, gentle walking is best. When resting, raise your leg above hip height (avoid standing still or sitting with legs down if possible). A modest ache in the leg should respond to simple pain-killers. You may drive, provided you are confident of performing an emergency stop.
SIDE EFFECTS AND COMPLICATIONS
A very few people experience chest tightness, a cough or visual disturbance (like a migraine) during treatment. These effects are transient, lasting less than 30 minutes or so.
Very rare allergy to the foam has been reported.
Bruising and lumpiness is usual after treatment, Arnica and anti-inflammatory drugs (like diclofenac, ibuprofen etc) can help (either tablets or topical gel). Occasionally trapped blood is tender and may need removal by needle suction. The lumpiness sometimes takes months to gradually settle down.
Brown skin staining is often seen where the veins have been treated – this usually fades in a few months but can sometimes still be seen after a year.
Thread veins sometimes develop after treatment (especially if you already have some). They may also occur after surgery and are treatable.
An ulcer may occur at the site of injection – this is rare. It will heal but may leave some brown staining.
You may develop further varicose veins in the future – this also applies to surgery. If you develop more varicose veins – please return to your practitioner for further assessment.
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