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Sclerotherapy for Leg Veins

UPMC Content 3

Leg Vein Information and Treatment

Spider veins are formed by the dilation of a small group of blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin. Although they can appear anywhere on the body, spider veins are most commonly found on the face and legs. They usually pose no health hazard, but may produce a dull aching in the legs after prolonged standing and indicate more severe venous disease.

Varicose veins are abnormally swollen or enlarged blood vessels caused by a weakening in the vein's wall.

Leg veins are usually treated with either sclerotherapy (injections) or laser (Nd:YAG). The decision is determined by:

  • Size of the veins
  • Failure of prior treatments
  • Patient decision

Sclerotherapy can effectively address small veins.  A concentrated saline or specially developed chemical solution is injected with a very small needle into the spider or varicose vein. The solution causes the vein to close up or collapse and become scar tissue that is eventually absorbed by the body. The work of carrying the blood is shifted to other healthy blood vessels nearby.

Laser therapy may be effective for certain leg veins and facial blood vessels. The heat from the high-intensity laser selectively destroys the abnormal veins. 

An optimal treatment program may combine techniques and technologies for your condition and lifestyle. 

Leg vein therapy generally requires one to three treatment sessions. The same area should not be retreated for four to six weeks to allow for complete healing, although other areas may undergo treatment during this time.

Post-treatment therapy includes:

  • Wearing bandages and support hose for one week following treatment
  • Walking

Most patients report few, if any minor side effects, which usually disappear in time. Temporary reactions can include:

  • Slight swelling of the leg or foot
  • Minor bruising
  • Pigmentation
  • Temporary appearance of new blood vessels
  • Redness
  • Mild soreness
  • Brown pigmentation that may last up to 1 year.