Therapy for Varicose Veins

Treatment of varicose veins may include removal of large veins by surgery and or laser obliteration of smaller veins by injection. Injection therapy has been part of the treatment of varicose veins for more than 50 years and though it has been given many new names recently, none of the methods used in injecting varicose veins has changed a great deal over the past 10 years. Therefore the results of therapy as well as the complications of treatment are well known.

The principle of injection is to fill the vein being treated with a solution that will empty the vein of blood and cause the vein wall to become inflamed. As a result, the walls of the vein will scar together and the vein will become obliterated and will no longer be visible. Because the veins of the lower extremities are under high pressure, there is a tendency for recurrence of varicose veins. Either new varicosities may develop or these that have been injected may recur at any time. This requires that an individual understand the need to return to the doctor for rechecks and minor additional treatments on a year basis.

Various chemical substances are utilized in injection treatment of varicose veins. Perhaps the most common of these is a detergent called sodium tetradecyl. Another is concentrated salt not sugar solution.

The needles used for injection are extremely small and cause little pain. Pain, if any, lasts a few seconds. Redness produced by the injection is essential to the process of obliteration of the veins. A pressure dressing or graduated support stocking may be applied to the area so that the veins will remain empty of blood. This will relieve itching and congestion in the skin. If an intense inflammatory reaction develops around the vein and in the skin, the skin may break down and ulcerate. Such ulceration will heal under treatment but will leave a scar.

Almost always, multiple treatment sessions are required based on the severity of the venous problem. The usual number is three treatments for each blemish. In each treatment session, nearly all the blemishes will be treated each time. This is done to minimize the number of treatments required. Following treatment, you can go about your normal daily activities as desired.

It should be understood that sclerotherapy is not a miracle cure. Neither injection therapy nor anything else will return the skin of the lower extremities to the way it was a teenager. Certainly, most of the objectionable veins can be obliterated, and the legs can be brought to a point where they will appear acceptable under sheer stockings. Nevertheless, small blemishes inevitably remain that are visible to the naked eye. The process may seem slow at first but usually will achieve acceptable results for the majority of patients.