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woman with varicose veins in lower leg

My experience with vein disease has been eye-opening. I’ve been amazed with the results of my endovenous ablation, and today, I am sharing my experience with sclerotherapy for varicose veins.

During my initial mapping, which is when your entire legs are scanned and the problem veins are discovered, they found I had weakened veins in both of my calves. The recommended treatment was sclerotherapy.

What is Sclerotherapy?

sclerotherapy injection

Sclerotherapy is a treatment for varicose veins in which a solution is injected into the diseased veins. Like ablation, it closes off the problem vein(s) and blood is rerouted to the healthy veins. The damaged vein is then absorbed into the body.

My Experience with Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins

After the laser ablation, which, to me, was a much more painful procedure than I had expected, I was looking forward to the sclerotherapy. After all, isn’t a needle injection better than having an entire catheter channeled down your veins?

While the procedure was quicker, it wasn’t exactly painless. The needle was larger than ones I’m used to in blood draws, and it felt like it went much deeper into my leg (I was expecting a tiny prick since the veins are closer to the skin — I was wrong).

My problem veins were on the back of my left calf and in the bend of my knee. If you’ve never had an injection in the bend of your knee, I’ll spoil it for you. It’s not pleasant. It wasn’t necessarily painful, but definitely not comfortable.

The Sclerotherapy Procedure

Once I was in the treatment room, my leg was prepped and sanitized, much like it was for the laser ablation. Also like ablation, then entire treatment was ultrasound guided, so my doctor could see the exact veins to inject. The first injection went right into the meat of my calf, about halfway down.

The doctor kept the needle in for longer than I would have liked, and needed to wiggle the needle to make sure the sclerotherapy solution dispersed evenly. I think in all I had five or six shots, and it took maybe 10 minutes.

As mentioned in my last article, I do get queasy, so I made sure I brought my ice pack to place behind my neck. I can’t tell you how much that relaxes you, and how well it works for dizziness. Even if you aren’t one to get sick around needles, I recommend bringing something just in case. It makes the experience so much easier.

What to Expect After Sclerotherapy

After the procedure was finished, the technician walked me back to the initial exam room and gave me a digital timer. A timer?! She set it for 10 minutes (from waht I remember) and told me to march in place and walk around the room as much as I could. This was helping the sclerotherapy solution work its way through my veins. And, it gave me a nice, light workout for the day!

My follow-up instructions were much like that for ablation — walk a lot and wear compression socks for a few hours a day (but just for five days).

A Heads Up About Insurance

While both of my calves needed sclerotherapy, my insurance (at first) only approved coverage for the left leg. They said my right leg’s veins weren’t wide or damaged enough. Thankfully, the vein center’s insurance specialist was relentless. After a few weeks, she was able to get insurance approval for my right leg. So even though my doctor said there were damaged veins in both of my legs, it was up to the insurance company to deem whether they were damaged “enough” for coverage. Keep in mind that you may have to battle the insurance, despite the doctor’s diagnosis.

Yes, I Recommend Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins

Hands-down, I recommend sclerotherapy for varicose veins. While the veins on my let thigh were not visible, the ones on my left calf were. And being in my 30s, I did not want them to get any larger are darker. It’s been two months post-treatment, and I can no longer see the veins in my left calf. So yes — sclerotherapy does work for varicose veins!