Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy

What is ultrasound guided sclerotherapy?
Developed as a minimally-invasive treatment for varicose and spider veins, ultrasound guided sclerotherapy is safer, faster than and just as effective as traditional surgical vein removal treatments. Ultrasound technology increases accuracy as specialists use injectable agents to permanently close unattractive, painful veins.

How does ultrasound guided sclerotherapy work?
Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy utilizes ultrasound imaging to chart the veins and identify the source veins that cause varicose veins and spider veins. After the troublesome vessels have been pinpointed, ultrasound images steer the specialist in accurately injecting a sclerosant such as sodium tetradecyl sulfate, sodium chloride or a glycerin solution into the problem veins. The sclerosant irritates the vein’s inner lining which causes damage, clotting, and an eventual demise of the unhealthy vein, while bloodflow is re-routed to healthier veins located deeper in the leg. Since the ultrasound images increase the accuracy of the procedure, primary problem veins and the smaller veins contributing to them can be treated, reducing any risk of redeveloping enlarged, visible veins in the treatment area in the future.

What are the benefits of ultrasound guided sclerotherapy over other techniques?
• Lower cost than surgical procedures
• Can be performed on an outpatient basis
• Minimal pain; no anesthesia
• Shorter recovery time
• Lower side effects than surgical procedures
• Able to target deeper veins, allowing treatment at the source

Who should consider ultrasound guided sclerotherapy?
Many otherwise healthy individuals with painful or unsightly veins are candidates for ultrasound guided sclerotherapy. However, if you are unable to walk, are susceptible to blood clots, have recently had surgery or been pregnant, or are breast feeding, this procedure may not be right for you.

How is the procedure performed?
Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy is usually administered in a clinic or physician’s office and can be performed by a physician, physician assistant or registered nurse. Ultrasound is utilized to identify and track the veins and to locate diseased or refluxing vessels. This process can sometimes take up to an hour to complete. The patient will then raise their leg to reduce blood pressure in it. Then, the specialist will use ultrasound imaging to direct the injection of the sclerosing agent into the targeted veins. The injections are quick and relatively painless. Normally, sessions last about half an hour, but they may be longer if there are numerous or very large veins that require treatment. Afterward, providers usually recommend that a bandage and compression stockings be worn for a period of time.

How much recovery time is needed?

Because the procedure is minimally-invasive, patients are often able to resume their daily lifestyles right away. Physicians may recommend the use of compression stockings, daily walking regimens, and the avoidance of demanding exercise for a week or two following treatment. Any discomfort can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication.

What will my results be like?
Most patients are very happy with the results after their ultrasound guided sclerotherapy. In some cases, more than one treatment session is needed for the best results. Immediately following treatment, some veins may look more noticeable for a short time as the sclerosing agent works to eliminate the veins, but once the treatment is complete the reduced appearance of the veins is permanent.

Are there any risks to consider?

Risks associated with ultrasound guided sclerotherapy include:
• Phlebitis—the formation of blood clots
• skin discoloration
• allergic reaction to the sclerosant
• matting
• bruising
• skin ulcerations
• infections
It is important to keep in mind that complications are infrequent and ultrasound guided sclerotherapy is associated with much less risk than traditional surgical procedures.

Will insurance cover this procedure?
If the procedure is motivated by a medical symptom such as painful varicose veins, the procedure may be covered by insurance. However, if your reason for sclerotherapy is purely cosmetic, most insurance companies will not offer coverage. In the latter case, your specialist may offer in-house financing options to make the procedure more affordable.

What is the price of ultrasound guided sclerotherapy?

Geographical location, the number and size of the veins requiring treatment, insurance coverage, and other fees can all influence the cost of this procedure. Most ultrasound guided sclerotherapy costs an average $200 to $500 per treatment, but consult your specialist for an individualized cost estimate.


Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By OnlineSurgery.org Staff
Updated: August 21, 2009

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