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Consultant Vascular Surgeon - Varicose and Thread Vein Expert

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Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy
for the treatment of varicose veins

What is ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy?

This is an alternative to surgery for the treatment of varicose veins. It is performed in the outpatient clinic as a walk-in/walk-out procedure and avoids the need for admission to hospital for an operation.

Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy for treatment of varicose veinsHow does the treatment work?

Sclerotherapy works by injecting a chemical into the veins which causes them to collapse and fibrose. The use of ultrasound enables the vein to be visualised so that the sclerosant can be injected into the vein under direct vision. This ensures the sclerosant is injected directly into the vein and also provides information that the treatment is complete. Different strengths of sclerosant are used for different sized veins. Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy can treat obvious varicose veins as well as incompetent long and short saphenous veins causing underlying problems.

Is the treatment painful?

This treatment is not usually painful and normally causes no discomfort, although sometimes a little aching is felt for a few minutes.

Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy for treatment of varicose veinsHow is the treatment carried out?

The procedure is performed lying down. A needle is placed in the vein to be treated using ultrasound imaging for accurate guidance and the foam is prepared to inject into the vein. Once injected, the foam spreads rapidly along the vein and its progress is monitored using ultrasound. Occasionally, several points along a vein may need to be injected during the treatment session. Once a good spread of the foam has been observed, compression is applied which should be kept in place for 48 hours. Between treatments, a compression stocking is worn.

How many sessions of treatment are required?

With this technique, usually one leg is treated per session and if both legs are affected, treatment to the other leg is given a couple of weeks later. Once the treatment has been performed, its effectiveness is checked 3-4 weeks later when repeat or further treatment is often required.

How will my legs look after the treatment?

Some bruising can occur after the treatment but will settle down within a few weeks. Lumps can sometimes be felt underneath the skin when prominent veins have been treated, but these resolve slowly over a few months. Occasionally, pale brown discolouration appears over the skin when prominent veins have been treated which should gradually fade over time.

Can I carry on as normal after the treatment?

Following the injection treatment carried out in the outpatient clinic, you are able to walk normally and return to work. Walking is encouraged but it is best to avoid vigorous exercise for 1-2 weeks.

Are there any risks associated with the treatment?

As with surgery or any other varicose vein treatment, there is a very small risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurring - although this is very rare. Bruising and occasional skin staining, as mentioned above, can be complications of the treatment.