My Sclerotherapy Procedure Review
Procedure specific satisfaction rating
About 3 months ago I went to see my dermatologist for an annual skin check for skin cancer when she pointed out the spider veins on my legs. I thought to myself, 'Oh God, she sees them too...where did all these big blood vessels come from?' I knew they were there, but her pointing them out made me a bit embarrassed. She tried to comfort me by saying that she too suffers from varicose veins and that treating them with something called sclerotherapy treatment was an excellent and almost painless solution to the problem, and that I'd be a good candidate for the procedure. She said there are some other ways that are usually more expensive or for bigger extremes of varicose veins, but things like laser treatments weren't overtly necessary in my case.
While she continued her exam from one mole to freckle to bump, she described the procedure a bit more - she could tell I was curious. She told me that pregnancy, genetics, standing for long periods of time (as a teacher I don't think I sit down all year until there is a standardized testing exam), and crossing my legs when sitting has made me more prone to these larger veins and the spider veins (called telangiectatic leg veins). The procedure would involve a fine needle (yikes!) and a sclerosing agent (she used a glycerin solution of some sort). She said that the common side effects were injection site pain or bruising, swelling of the treated area was rare, and high likelihood of needing re-treatment about one month later. She said that many patients will need anywhere from 2-4 sessions for more stubborn veins.
After my appointment I told her I would think about it and would schedule it when I could fit it into my schedule (ideally during a school break and before the summertime so I could show off my legs for the first time in about 8 years). I did some more research and watch YouTube videos some time after the appointment to learn more about the sclerotherapy procedure. Essentially the vein treatment would cause the treatment area to harden, therefore no longer allowing the blood to move through the veins and no longer being visible. This all seemed simple enough and I had no needle phobias, so I was ready to make the call to get started.
I returned to the doctor's office about 2 weeks later after booking for the vein treatment and I was excited to give this treatment a shot - no pun intended. I got into the exam room, escorted by a nurse who then asked me about my allergies, if I had any blood disorders or history of blood clots in my medical history, or if I had taken aspirin or Ibuprofen (or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) any time in the last 2 weeks. I wasn't told over the phone to avoid these things before the procedure before I booked, but I was relieved to say that I didn't - I would have been so disappointed if I couldn't go forward with the procedure that day. I signed some paperwork to be able to undergo the medical procedure and then the staff member set me up with a gown, laid out a few instruments that I was a little nervous to see being set up, and then she said that the doctor would be right in.
I took a deep breath and was excited and nervous to get started, but the dermatologist made me feel better when she showed me more before and after photos and calmly described the procedure. After answering any additional questions I had, she said in a positive, cheerful voice, "well let's get started with your first sclerotherapy session!" I laid down on my stomach because the back of my legs were by far the worst of them all, and the doctor cleaned my legs with a solution. She put on a visor-like eye glass thing that must magnify my horrific veins even more, and she told me I may feel a stinging sensation or the pinch of the needle. The sclerosing solution wasn't that painful, to my surprise, and I could barely feel the needle. She asked if I was alright, and with my agreement she continued working. Before I knew it I was flipping onto my back and she was attacking a few treatment areas on my thighs. The smaller varicose veins were actually disappearing when she injected the substance when I snuck a peak. How cool! But then it came back a few minutes later. I asked her if it would work based on what I saw, and she said absolutely. The blood refills in the veins once the solution has dissipated. She did, however, tell me that I had a good chance of creating new veins in the future, but that, I told her, would be an issue I'd have her address whenever they show up if this really works.
She patched me up so that I wouldn't be bleeding or getting any dried blood on my clothes. I was shocked at how good I felt despite having what must've been about 30 needle pricks, but she warned me that bruising was likely and by next month we should see some improvement of the areas she treated today, with likely a good amount needing some re-treatment (or reinforcement, as she called it). I was told that I could wear compression stockings if I wanted to, but wasn't a requirement for success, and that I would be back in a month for that second treatment. I wasn't allowed to do any excessive exercising for 48 hours - and I assured the doctor I had no issue with that (no exercise at doctor's orders, sounds good to me!).
I did just as the doctor said and then waited for the bruising to go away. About 2 weeks after the procedure you couldn't tell I had anything done, other than noticeable disappearance of a lot of the veins I remember seeing. I started to feel so much better about going back to see the doctor for another session because I felt like that may be all I'll need.
Another month went by quick, and it aligned perfectly with another school break. I met up with the doctor again, this time feeling much more confident than the last procedure and ready to get the process underway. No paperwork this time, but the usual set up and discussion was made before the doctor came in and then we were ready to get started. I felt like I could feel the stinging a little more this time than the last, which the doctor said might be because it was harder to get the smaller veins that were now left over from the first treatment. The doctor made quick work of my remaining leg veins and made sure I was still aware of the post treatment protocols.
About 3 weeks after the procedure I had little to no visible spider veins left and I didn't feel I needed a third procedure. I canceled the visit and was sure that this spring and summer I could wear my skirts and dresses confidently. Now, 3 months after the procedure I've gone shopping for a few spring dresses that can float above the knee without me worrying about someone seeing my age by my legs.