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Skle-ro-therapy is a medical treatment whereby a solution is injected into the abnormal veins. These solutions irritate the inner lining of the vein wall, causing the abnormal vein to harden and get absorbed by the body.
Over the last 12 to 15 years, use of ultrasound guidance has changed how varicose veins can be treated. In the past, veins visible on the skin were treated. These did not address the veins hidden within the leg or the “root” cause of the varicose veins. Now with ultrasound guidance, these veins can be targeted therefore ensuring more effective treatments and less recurrence.
With ultrasound guided sclerotherapy (UGS), the varicose veins are targeted where they start form and not only where they end, which may be either on the skin or just before coming out of the skin. This is one of the newer treatments available that can manage even the most advanced of varicose veins. It is often used along with other treatments such as the Endovenous Laser Ablation as well as Phlebectomy.
With the use of duplex ultrasound, the areas to be treated are mapped out including any other relevant anatomy. The abnormal veins are then precisely injected under ultrasound guidance with the sclerosant that irritates the inner walls, causing them to harden and break down. A number of injections may be needed along the entire length of the vein to ensure complete closure of the vein.
The needles used are small and cause little to no discomfort. As the entire procedure is done under ultrasound guidance, this increases safety and prevents and injury to nerves, deeper veins and arteries.
Straight after treatment, stockings are applied and all patients are encouraged to walk straight after the treatment. There may be some heaviness for the first day and possibly night, but most settle over the next few days. Most patients can go straight back to work or even any other daily activity of their choice.
Very strenuous exercises are best avoided for the first two weeks after treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
Generally, only one treatment is required per leg. This usually takes 30 to 45 minutes. There may be times, when a second treatment may be needed if certain small branches may need to be re-injected during a review. This is not common and only happens when there are significant varicose veins deep under the skin or when certain areas did not react to the solution as expected.
Is it effective?
Treatments are very effective, especially since foam ultrasound guided sclerotherapy has emerged. This ensures good coverage and closure of most varicose veins. As they are often used with Endovenous Laser Ablations as well as Phlebectomies, the success rate is very high.