This procedure involves injecting an irritating solution into a varicose vein or a spider vein.

This procedure involves injecting an irritating solution into a varicose vein or a spider vein.

A varicose vein develops when a vein, or a valve inside the vein, weakens. This causes pooling of blood that leads to enlarged, deformed and bluish veins just under the surface of the skin. Most people with varicose veins have no symptoms or minor symptoms. However, some people experience:

  • Aching and fatigue of the affected muscles
  • Itchy skin near the veins, especially on the lower leg and ankle
  • Brownish-gray skin or skin ulcers near or on the ankle
  • Swelling and heavy feeling in the affected leg

Spider veins are small, superficial veins within the skin itself.

  • A spider vein is often blue or red and may form a starburst pattern on the skin's surface.
  • Spider veins typically produce no symptoms.
  • Sclerotherapy for spider veins is typically only done for cosmetic reasons.

A healthcare provider may recommend sclerotherapy if varicose veins are painful or unsightly. Sclerotherapy is a procedure that is most often used to treat small varicose veins. It involves a healthcare provider using a small needle to inject a sclerosing solution (liquid or foam) into a varicose vein. Ultrasound may be used to help guide the needle into the vein.

  • The sclerosing solution irritates the lining of the vein. This causes the inside lining of the vein to become inflamed and stick together.
  • After the injection, compression bandages are wrapped around the leg to keep the vein walls stuck together. This diverts blood flow to healthier veins.
  • In a few weeks, the vein will become scar tissue that is absorbed by the body.

Sclerotherapy works best when the varicose veins are small and there are only a few of them. It is done in your healthcare provider's office. After the procedure, you may have:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Stinging
  • Itching or pain at the injection site

These symptoms typically go away within ten to fifteen minutes of the injection.

After having sclerotherapy:

  • You will need to wear the compression bandages for one to three days after treatment.
  • You may need to wear compression bandages occasionally for up to three weeks.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about any restrictions you should follow.
  • Call your healthcare provider right away if you develop blisters or skin lesions.

Sclerotherapy may cost a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Most insurance companies do not cover the procedure when it is done for cosmetic reasons. Please review your coverage documents and/or call the number on the back of your ID card for more information. The estimates shown apply when the service is determined to be a covered service, eligible for in-network reimbursement.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you signs of varicose veins and/or spider veins and are considering sclerotherapy.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms, or concerns you want to talk about.

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.

  • What is causing my varicose veins and/or spider veins?
  • Why are you recommending sclerotherapy? What are my other options?
  • What are the risks to having sclerotherapy?
  • When might I start to see improvement in my symptoms?
  • How can I prevent the varicose veins from coming back?
  • What is your experience and success record with this type of procedure? How many of your patients have needed follow up procedures because their symptoms have recurred?
  • What are my follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Make sure you understand your treatment plan, any possible alternatives and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).

  • If surgery is recommended, you should understand why that recommendation was made. Seek a second opinion if necessary.
  • Remember to arrange for transportation to and from the office.


Also known as:

Varicose Veins
Varicose Vein Injection
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