Foam Sclerotherapy for Varicose and Spider Veins

Foam sclerotherapy is an injection technique that helps eliminate varicose veins and smaller spider veins by causing scar formation on the vessel walls, causing them to harden and close.

Like other forms of sclerotherapy, foam sclerotherapy causes scars to form along the walls of the blood vessels. This scarring causes the vessels to harden and constrict, eventually preventing the flow of blood. When the bloodflow is halted, the vessels disappear. While most sclerotherapy techniques use a liquid formulation, foam sclerotherapy relies on a foam formulation that results when two agents are mixed within the injection device. The resulting agent is thick, usually of the consistency of shaving cream.

What are the advantages of foam sclerotherapy over other similar procedures?

Foam sclerotherapy has two distinct advantages over traditional sclerotherapy procedures. Because the sclerosing agent is in foam form, it is able to displace the blood in the vessel being treated, which means the sclerosing formula is able to be in direct contact with the vessel wall for a longer period of time, allowing it to work more effectively than liquid agents which may be diluted by bloodflow. Also, the foam is visible on ultrasound, and its placement, spread, and effects can be guided and tracked more effectively as a result.

Who is a candidate for foam sclerotherapy?

Any man or woman who has varicose veins or spider veins can be a good candidate for foam sclerotherapy. Individuals who have certain blood or cardiovascular problems may not be ideal candidates, and women who are pregnant should not undergo the procedure.

How is the procedure performed?

Your procedure will begin with application of a topical anesthetic to numb the treatment area. Once the area is anesthetized, your specialist will inject the treatment area with the sclerosing foam, using ultrasound to ensure it is spread effectively throughout the treatment zone. Depending upon the size of the area being treated, more than one injection may be necessary. Most procedures take about 30 to 45 minutes to perform.

What is the recovery like?

Foam sclerotherapy has a very brief recovery time, and most individuals can return to normal work routines immediately after their procedure. When leg veins are treated, a compression stocking may be worn for a day or two to aid in healing.

What will my results be like?

Most individuals achieve satisfactory results with one treatment of foam sclerotherapy, noticing a visible improvement immediately after the procedure. In some cases, however, subsequent treatments may be needed.

What are the risks?

Recently, the FDA reported that foam sclerotherapy may be associated with a higher risk of microembolisms, tiny blood clots which may form in the area of the treatment. Itching, redness, and bruising may also occur in the treatment site, but should resolve within a day or two of the procedure.

Is the foam sclerotherapy procedure approved for use in the U.S.?

Yes, foam sclerotherapy has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.

Is the foam sclerotherapy procedure covered by insurance companies?

In most cases, foam sclerotherapy is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance. In some cases where larger veins are involved, however, the procedure may be covered. Ask your carrier to determine your coverage.

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