Sclerotherapy is the method for eliminating superficial telangiectasias ("spider veins") and some varicosities by the injection of a solution, called a "sclerosing agent", into the veins. The vast majority of patients who have sclerotherapy will have a significant clearing of the veins with at least good improvement. There can be no guarantee, however, that it will be effective in every case. Less than 10% of patients undergoing sclerotherapy will have poor results, in which the veins do not imporve despite multiple injections. It is extremely rare for anyone's condition to worsen because of treatment.
A tiny needle is threaded into the blood vessel and a small amount of sclerosing agent is gently injected. This may sting for 20 - 30 seconds or cause a slight cramp. The injection "flushes" out the red blood cells temporarily, leading to an inflammatory reaction. This reaction causes "sclerosis", or the formation of fibrous tissue within the vessel, leading to the gradual disappearance of the vessel. This fading can take from a few weeks to a few months. Most areas will require between three to five treatments to fade.
It is important to realize that sclerotherapy does not prevent development of new spider veins and varicosities over the years. Many people will require treatments occasionally to keep their legs clear. Standing occupations, pregnancy and estrogen increase this tendency.
It is difficult to predict the number of treatments needed to clear or improve the condition. Each vein may need to be injected one to five or more times, over a period of several months. Improvement is usually seen over a period of months, not weeks. In each treatment session, multiple areas can be treated, thus reducing the total number of sessions required. The total number of treatment sessions needed depends on the amount and severity of the veins (the average is three to five) with severe cases requiring as many as ten or more.
Sclerotherapy is not usually covered by your insurance company, depending on the size of the veins and whether or not they cause symptoms. When the veins are small, the treatment is considered to be cosmetic and is not covered. When the veins are large and "varicose", or cause pain or discomfort, then there is a chance that the sclerotherapy will be covered. Each patient has the responsibility for payment at the time of service, whether or not the treatments are successful, and whether or not the treatments are covered by insurance.
All diagnostic testing and treatment must be paid for in full at the time the service is performed. At your request, we will send a detailed letter, photographs, and vascular test results to your insurance company. Each patient must submit their receipt to his/her insurance company for reimbursement.
If certain criteria is met, Provincial Health Care (MSI) may cover the cost of one treatment on each leg per twelve month period. The doctor will let you know at the time of your assessment if you are eligible for MSI coverage.
Most patients do not notice any difference in treated veins until after the second treatment session. In many cases it seems as though the first treatment "sensitizes" the vein, and the next treatment closes them down in a noticeable way.
Prescription-strength compression stockings will enhance the results of treatment and reduce potential side effects.