Sclerotherapy is a popular, FDA-authorized medical procedure for eliminating the appearance of spider veins on the body. It involves injecting sclerotherapy solution or foam directly into the unsightly veins using a fine needle.
This injection works by damaging the natural lining of the vein to disrupt the flow of blood. The injection thus causes the vein to collapse. When this happens, the vein is permanently disrupted, and the body is then able to clear the nonfunctioning vein from the surface of the skin. The body naturally absorbs the components of the vein; blood flow is then rerouted to a healthier vein beneath the skin’s surface.
If you have varicose or spider veins and are interested in getting them treated through sclerotherapy, you need to have all the essential information. Key among that is knowing what to avoid after sclerotherapy. This can help you get the best results after the procedure.
But first, let us briefly discuss varicose and spider veins and understand what they look like.
What do Spider Veins Look Like?
Spider veins are thinner, appearing in a branch-like pattern, spreading from a central point usually found on the face and legs. Spider veins have no accompanying symptoms and are less likely to cause any complications. They are, therefore, traditionally treated for cosmetic reasons. Spider veins are believed to be caused by genetics, prolonged sitting or standing, sun exposure, hormonal changes, and aging.
Post-Sclerotherapy Procedure Tips
Like any medical procedure, sclerotherapy requires proper care before, during, and after treatment to achieve satisfying results. It is essential to follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider. The tips listed below will help you minimize the side effects and maximize the health and aesthetic benefits.
Here is everything you need to do:
Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Do not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen, as these can interfere with and slow down the process of vein collapse. These drugs have blood-thinning properties that can affect the blot clotting necessary for the treated veins to close off and achieve the desired outcome.
Inflammation is also a normal reaction you can expect from the vein when it is injected with the sclerotherapy foam or fluid solution (also called sclerosants). Taking anti-inflammatory medicines will reduce this inflammation and minimize the sclerosant’s effect. NSAIDs may also increase the risk of bleeding if taken in high doses and for extended periods.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise
While it is advised to resume activities and movement after the treatment, patients should not do strenuous activities like heavy lifting and high-impact workouts within 48 hours of the procedure. These activities put a strain on the legs, increasing blood flow and pressure to the veins. This can interfere with blood clotting and delay the desired results as well as the healing process.
Increased blood flow post-procedure can also cause bruising and swelling on the injection sites and may pose risks such as damage to the treated vein. Instead of vigorous exercises, you can undertake some slow-paced walking and light, short-range motions.
Avoid Prolonged Inactivity
The other extreme – barely moving at all, is also not advised. A lack of movement or activity will slow blood flow and affect blood clotting necessary for vein closure and healing. Sitting or standing for extended periods may also cause post-procedure swelling and discomfort.
Immobility may also pose potential risks like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or the formation of blood clots in deep veins that could travel to the lungs and lead to pulmonary thrombosis. These are rare occurrences, but it’s best to take precautions to avoid them from happening at all.
But what about exercise?
You can do low-key workouts. Incorporating some slow walking, light stretching, and light repetitive exercise routines can help promote blood flow. Such exercise is essential for sclerotherapy efficacy, healing, and minimizing complications.
With these movements- and a little patience- you’ll return to your old active self in no time.
Avoid Prolonged Sun Exposure and Excessive Heat
It’s essential to stay out of the sun while the body is clearing the veins. For the first four weeks, it is highly recommended that you avoid direct sunlight, especially the noonday sun, apply anti-UV sunscreen with at least SPF 30, even on cloudy days, and wear clothing that sufficiently covers your treated area. Sun exposure can delay the healing process and can cause discoloration of the treated area as it heals.
Avoiding saunas, hot tubs, and hot baths for the first three days after sclerotherapy is also recommended. The excess heat may cause blood vessel inflammation that gives you additional swelling and burning sensations. The natural barriers to prevent infection are impaired as the skin is inflamed and swollen by the process. The excess sweat or immersion in water during that time can help bacteria that naturally live on the skin to enter and cause an infection called cellulitis. In addition, being exposed or subjected to excessive heat can also cause the vein to dilate and the closure to re-open — neutralizing the procedure.
Sclerotherapy may cause some swelling. Wearing skinny jeans or tight tops can put pressure on the injection sites and exacerbate the discomfort. There can also be risks of skin irritation and pressure sores.
Clothes that are too tight may impede your blood circulation and potentially impact the effect and delay healing. Patients are encouraged to wear loose, airy clothing to allow airflow and blood flow after the procedure.
Avoid Applying Makeup or Lotion
Some lotions and skin products may cause skin irritation, especially on already swollen injection sites. If you had sclerotherapy done to treat spider veins on your face, avoid using facial topicals if you can, as these can aggravate the swellings and cause you discomfort.
If needed, you can opt for oil-free and non-irritating cosmetics.
For your legs, use only alcohol-free and fragrance-free products, but it’s best to avoid using any skin product until your doctor says it’s safe to do so. Depending on how you are recovering, this could be a few weeks to a few months.
Avoid Shaving or Hair Removal Procedures
The skin may be more sensitive than usual after sclerotherapy, so avoid any form of hair removal during the first few weeks to a month post-procedure. Shaving or waxing can cause localized irritation, abrasion, and micro-cuts to the injection sites — which could make your skin prone to scarring and infection. Shaving and waxing may also disrupt blot clots essential to vein closure and collapse and, in some rare instances, cause bleeding.
How Long is the Downtime After Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a quick medical procedure done on an outpatient basis. After discussions and preparations, a patient can walk into the doctor’s clinic and have it done in 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the severity and extent of the veins to be treated.
Patients can resume their regular activities, provided they follow the doctor’s post-procedure care instructions. It is a minimally invasive procedure requiring no anesthesia and little to no downtime.
How Long After Sclerotherapy Do Veins Disappear?
Depending on the size and extent of the veins, you can see visible results as early as three weeks for small varicose and spider veins. The efficacy and healing may also depend on following post-procedure do’s and don’ts.
The effect of sclerotherapy is permanent because the problematic veins are disabled, re-routing the blood flow through healthier veins. However, new spider veins may develop over time, even after a successful sclerotherapy.
How to Sleep After Sclerotherapy?
You may be advised to wear your compression stockings even while sleeping. This provides compression that gradually decreases pressure from the ankles up to the leg. This graduated pressure helps the veins pump blood back to the heart and aids in the treated vein’s closure and healing. You should also sleep lying on your back with your legs slightly elevated by putting a cushion or pillow under your calves and feet if you experience swelling after the procedure.
Avoid sleeping in a fetal position or on your tummy, as these can put excessive pressure on your treated areas. Also, do not cross your legs to avoid blood flow obstruction and irritation.
Do not wear tight clothing. Loose-fitting pajamas or shorts are your best sleepwear during the first few weeks after sclerotherapy. You may also sleep with lightweight blankets or sheets over your legs to help put moderate pressure on your procedure site and help blood flow to the heart.
Should I Elevate My Legs After Sclerotherapy?
If you experience swelling after sclerotherapy, it is generally recommended that you raise your legs to enhance blood flow, support vein closure, reduce the swelling, and minimize discomfort. You can do this by raising your legs above your heart level by propping cushions or pillows under your legs while lying down. Do this for a few minutes, especially within the first few days following sclerotherapy.
The use of compression stockings can boost blood flow further while elevating your legs.
How Long After Sclerotherapy Can I Exercise?
This can vary depending on your vein severity and extent. You may do light exercises like slow walks immediately after the procedure to encourage blood flow, while moderate exercises can often be done after three days.
Ask your doctor when you can safely resume doing vigorous workouts. Levels of activities allowed and how soon after the procedure are tailored to each patient.
Sclerotherapy Potential Side Effects
Sclerotherapy, like any medical procedure, has potential side effects and risks. Some of these include stinging in the injection sites, cramps, swelling of the ankles or feet, skin changes, discoloration, and discomfort.
Some extremely rare risks are permanent brown lines or spots in the injection sites, allergic reactions, blood clots or venous thromboembolism, nerve injury, and tissue necrosis or death of body tissue due to lack of blood supply or damage.
It is, therefore, essential to have your sclerotherapy consultation and procedure done by a certified expert who has successfully conducted the procedure on different cases. Whether you are seeking help with your problematic veins for health or cosmetic reasons, it is vital to have it done by specialists with certified knowledge and professional practice.
New York Metropolitan Vein and Aesthetic Center is a trusted name in treating vein diseases in New York and nearby areas, with venous disease and aesthetic medicine expert Dr. Adam Goldman leading a team of medical specialists. We provide complete evaluation and treatment using FDA-certified chemical solutions, concentrations, modern ultrasound, and procedures.
Benefits of Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is a safe and minimally invasive solution to vein problems and their symptoms like skin ulcers, swelling, itching, heaviness, throbbing, and discomfort that plague several men and women. You don’t have to suffer and bear the risks of having bulging and bothersome diseased veins. Sclerotherapy is safe and effective and also has the following benefits:
- Quick procedure
- No anesthesia required
- No downtime
- Low risk
- Manageable side effects
- Lasting results
- Prevents the progression of your vein problem
Is Sclerotherapy Right for You?
Are you seeing spider veins affecting your body image? If yes, it is best to consult an expert on whether sclerotherapy is the best option for your goals. This will help you understand the condition, its progression, risks, and the proper vein treatment based on your case, health history, and status.
These problematic veins are not likely to go away unless you act on them. You may have tried other ways like massaging and topicals, but the proven way to effectively eliminate them is sclerotherapy. To know whether this treatment is right for you, you need to disclose your health information, the medications and supplements you have taken or are currently taking, and any other health-related issues with the specialist you are consulting.
You can be a good candidate for sclerotherapy if you are between 30 and 60 years old, have no history of blood clotting issues, have no diabetes, have no injuries, and are not pregnant.
The specialist will determine eligibility on an individual basis.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
If you want to address your varicose or spider veins medically, you may contact us and book an appointment or visit one of our clinics in New York – in Washington Heights and Corona, Queens. Send us your inquiry, and we will gladly assist you in making an informed decision.
Our mission is to help people find a lasting solution to their spider veins using a safe method and in state-of-the-art medical clinics that value health, aesthetics, and quality of life.
Clinic contact and address:
Washington Heights, NY
4915 Broadway Suite 1A
New York, NY 10034
37-73 103rd St.
Corona, NY 11368