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What are the Pros and Cons of Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Sclerotherapy is a procedure done to remove varicose veins from the body. The procedure involves a series of injections directly into the varicose veins. Getting rid of these veins can make a person's skin look clearer and younger but may result in several unwanted side effects, including swollen legs and unsightly bruising. The results of sclerotherapy for varicose veins may not be everything the patient had hoped, may be slightly painful and the procedure may not work completely the first time it is done.

The injections can be painful, but most people can usually control any related soreness with over-the-counter pain relief medication. People with low pain tolerance may wish to forego the procedure. Other side effects that may occur include burning, itching, swollen legs, bruising and blood clots. Anaphylactic shock is also a possibility.

Clearer skin is one reason many people decide to get sclerotherapy for varicose veins. The procedure usually only takes a couple of hours, and the recovery time is short. It is an outpatient procedure, which means the patient will not have to deal with the added cost of a hospital room. Bed rest is generally not needed, and walking is encouraged.

The majority of people who have this procedure done will see a dramatic reduction in the appearance of varicose veins. The compression stockings the doctor will advise the patient to wear after the procedure is complete may increase the chances of the varicose veins disappearing. It is considered one of the safer methods for getting rid of these types of veins and, if it is done for medical reasons, may be covered by the patient's insurance policy.

Many insurance plans will not pay for this procedure if it is done for cosmetic reasons. This means the entire cost of the procedure and the follow-up appointments will come out of the patient's pocket. A patient must consider his finances and make sure that he has enough money to cover all of the associated costs before using sclerotherapy for varicose veins.

One of the biggest reasons many people give for deciding not to have this procedure is the lack of guarantee that it will be successful. While the majority of people get good results, a small percentage does not see any improvement at all. This, coupled with the fact that it can take months to see any results, discourages many potential patients from getting sclerotherapy for varicose veins.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1003323 — On Jun 17, 2020

I just had the procedure done about couple weeks ago and I have heaviness in my leg. When will I feel better?

By Mor — On Jul 30, 2011

I actually heard that scientists recently discovered sclerotherapy may be more dangerous than they thought.

The drugs they inject sometimes show up later in the heart and lungs and so forth. They don't think they do anything there, but it would still worry me a little bit.

I guess though, that it has been done for quite a few years now, and is still considered very safe. But if I was just doing it for cosmetic reasons, I think I would be a bit hesitant.

By pastanaga — On Jul 29, 2011

I had a friend who did this procedure a few years ago. She had quite a few visible veins on her legs and they really embarrassed her.

I actually don't think they were as bad as she seemed to think they were. She would never go swimming, for example. But I honestly don't think anyone would have noticed, or cared if they did!

Anyway, she got it done, and had to wear the stockings for a few days afterwards.

She said it was worse having to wear the stockings than getting the needles, as they were incredibly itchy.

And afterwards, she still wasn't happy. I think she hoped she'd be completely veinless but she wasn't.

She couldn't quite bring herself to do it again though!

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