Foam sclerotherapy for varicose veins
Foam sclerotherapy is a method of injecting solution to ultimately reduce and remove varicose veins
Varicose veins are enlarged, sometimes twisted veins that most often develop in the leg. They can be hereditary, tending to run in families. They can be worse during or after pregnancy, or if you are overweight. While they can be uncomfortable and unsightly, they don’t usually cause any serious health problems.
Veins carry blood to the heart. Along the length of all veins are valves, which only let the blood flow in one direction. The valves in the legs have to work harder to pump the blood that extra distance and problems occur when these valves become weak and don’t close properly. The blood flows backwards and pools in the veins. This causes the valves to weaken under the pressure and become enlarged and bulging in appearance - what we call varicose veins.
There are a number of treatments for varicose veins. If you continue to have problems with your varicose veins your consultant may recommend foam sclerotherapy.
What happens during foam sclerotherapy?
Foam sclerotherapy is usually carried out under local anaesthetic and as a day case procedure meaning you will go home the day of the procedure. A solution is mixed with air creating a foam. Your surgeon will inject this foam into the affected vein. If your vein is very deep, your surgeon may use ultrasound to guide the injection into the correct area.
After foam sclerotherapy
The foam begins to react immediately with the vein wall. It causes inflammation within the vein and pushes out any blood in the area. The walls of the vein become sticky and eventually close off the vein. Over several weeks or months, your varicose vein will shrink and disappear.
Immediately after the injection, our Healthcare Team will apply a pressure bandage to your leg. This is to ensure the walls of the vein are held together and prevents blood from seeping back into the vein. You will need to keep any pressure bandages in place for 12-24 hours following your procedure. You will also need to wear compression stockings for 3-4 weeks.
Your leg may be sore for a few days following foam sclerotherapy. You should remain mobile during your recovery - walking each day. Try to avoid long periods of standing, kneeling, squatting, bending or strenuous exercise for 4-6 weeks. Elevate your leg when sitting for any length of time.
Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon.
Most people are pleased with the results of their foam sclerotherapy. As with any procedure there could be complications:
- Blood clots
Specific complications from foam sclerotherapy may include:
- Discolouration of the skin
- Lumps under the skin
- Inflammation across the vein site
- Temporary vision problems
- Injections need to be repeated.
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Unsightly and uncomfortable varicose veins can diminish your confidence and get in the way of the life you love. But Mr Simon Hobbs, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Nuffield Health Wolverhampton hospital, says getting rid of them is not as scary as it once was.