Anyone can suffer with thread (red, spider or broken) veins, and they can appear on any part of the body. Although harmless, they often cause distress as the sufferer often feels self-conscious, particularly if the veins are on an exposed part of the body, such as the legs.
Sclerotherapy treatment was developed in the 1920s for the treatment of varicose veins. This was refined for the treatment of thread veins, and this is what we now call microslerotherapy. Micro simply refers to the very small veins targeted by this procedure. Both these treatments are now very popular and successful.
Treatment of varicose veins is generally considered to be a medical matter and not one for an aesthetic practitioner and so patients are often referred by their GP to a vascular (vein) specialist.
Microsclerotherapy is a technique of injecting thread or spider veins with a special substance known as a "sclerosant", usually a solution called sodium tetradecyl sulphate that causes swelling in the vein wall. If the vein is small enough, the swelling will destroy the vein over several weeks, making it much less noticeable or even invisible.
Microsclerotherapy is normally used for the treatment of leg thread veins, alternative treatments are favoured for facial veins owing to the small possibility of scarring.
Manufacturers recommend that only medically qualified practitioners should offer microsclerotherapy.
Manufacturers do not recommend that beauticians or other persons outside the medical profession use microsclerotherapy.
Who is the treatment suitable for?
There are a number of clients who should not consider this treatment including those that:
What happens during a Microsclerotherapy treatment?
The first time you visit the clinic, a detailed consultation including relevant medical history will be undertaken to ensure the treatment is right for you and you understand what is involved in the treatment and aftercare.
You will be asked to sign a consent form, which means that you have understood what the treatment may do, and the potential side effects.
Photographs may also be taken that can be used as a “before and after” comparison to show you how successful your treatment has been.
There is usually minimal discomfort during microsclerotherapy injections due to the small size of the needle and the superficial injection technique. The procedure will usually take no more than 30 minutes, depending on the number of veins requiring treatment.
Following injections, a dressing may be taped over the treated area, and a special bandage and compression stocking may be applied which may be worn for several days to help assist shrinkage of the thread veins.
You can usually drive and go about your normal daily activities straight away.
A single blood vessel may have to be injected more than once, depending on its size.
Repeat injection sessions can be scheduled one week later, but it is better to wait one month between treatments.
What are the risks and potential complications from Microsclerotherapy treatment?
Some pain or burning at the injection site may occur following injections, and some patients experience restlessness in their legs during the first few nights. This is due to the swelling of the walls of the veins.
For a month or so, the vessels may appear more prominent. The injection sites look like insect bites, and may occasionally itch. The veins gradually begin to fade and continue to improve for up to 8 weeks. After this time, a brownish discolouration of the skin may continue and may take many months to fade away.
Complications following microsclerotherapy are very rare, but the solution can sometimes escape from the veins and cause inflammation in the skin surrounding the treated area. There is also a small risk of the development of tiny ulcers, which may leave a small pink or white scar on healing.
Occasionally you may also find new veins developing in the treated areas, or even old veins flaring up again.