Sclerotherapy is a common treatment used to eliminate spider veins and varicose veins. During sclerotherapy, a solution is injected directly into the affected veins, causing them to collapse and eventually fade away. While sclerotherapy is an effective way to get rid of unwanted veins, multiple treatments are usually required to achieve optimal results. This leads many patients to wonder – how long should you wait between sclerotherapy sessions?
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat spider veins (telangiectasias) and varicose veins. It involves injecting a sclerosing solution directly into the affected veins. The solution irritates the lining of the veins, causing them to swell and stick together. Over time, the veins turn into scar tissue that fades from view.
The most common sclerosing solutions used are sodium tetradecyl sulfate and polidocanol. These detergent-like solutions damage the venous lining, leading to a clotting reaction that blocks off the vein. The collapsed vein is eventually absorbed by the body.
Sclerotherapy is effective for eliminating spider veins and smaller varicose veins. For larger varicose veins, additional treatments like endovenous laser ablation may be recommended. However, sclerotherapy is considered relatively painless and provides excellent cosmetic results when performed correctly.
Benefits of sclerotherapy
There are many advantages to using sclerotherapy for treating spider and varicose veins:
- Minimally invasive – Only a small needle injection is required, no surgery or downtime needed.
- Effective – Over 60-80% of veins treated are eliminated with a single session.
- Safe – Serious complications are very rare when performed by a qualified specialist.
- Affordable – Much cheaper than more invasive surgical procedures.
- Quick – Treatment sessions only take 15-20 minutes on average.
- Improved appearance – Helps reduce the visibility of bulging, twisted veins.
- Symptom relief – Decreases achiness, swelling, and discomfort caused by varicose veins.
For many patients seeking cosmetic improvement or relief from vein-related symptoms, sclerotherapy is an excellent first-line treatment option.
How many sclerotherapy sessions are needed?
While some veins are eliminated after just one or two sclerotherapy treatments, most patients require between two and six sessions spaced four to six weeks apart. The number of treatments needed depends on:
- The location and extent of the veins being treated
- Vein size – Smaller spider veins require fewer treatments than larger varicose veins
- The skill level of the injector performing the sclerotherapy
- Your body’s response to the sclerosing medication
- How diligently you follow post-treatment instructions
Your doctor will assess your veins and let you know approximately how many sclerotherapy sessions you can expect to achieve the desired improvements. Keep in mind that 75% or more of the visible veins are usually eliminated after the recommended course of treatment.
How long between sclerotherapy sessions?
Most physicians recommend waiting 4-6 weeks between sclerotherapy treatments. Here’s why this waiting period is advised:
- It allows veins to fully collapse and close off after each session.
- The sclerosing solution remains active within the veins for up to four weeks.
- It gives your body adequate time to naturally reabsorb the treated veins.
- Waiting helps avoid over-treatment and potential complications.
- Your body needs time to form new vein collaterals after each session.
Trying to treat veins too frequently with sclerotherapy can lead to trapped blood, skin injury, or dark discoloration from iron deposits. The recommended 4-6 week spacing between treatments allows for a controlled, gradual improvement with lower risks.
Can you have sclerotherapy done more frequently?
Some patients want to complete their course of sclerotherapy as quickly as possible. However, most experts advise against having sessions less than 4 weeks apart. Here’s why:
- The sclerosing agent remains active in veins for up to a month after injection. Having more solution injected too soon increases the risk of skin necrosis, ulceration, and other complications from over-treatment.
- Your body needs time to naturally reabsorb the collapsed veins and form new collateral veins around the treated areas. Rushing sessions doesn’t allow adequate time for your vascular system to remodel.
- Veins that appear unchanged four weeks after a session may still close off over the following weeks as the sclerosing solution continues to work. Having more injections too soon could treat some veins that would have resolved on their own.
- Performing sclerotherapy too frequently can weaken vein walls. This makes them more prone to reopen down the road.
- Proper spacing between sessions helps minimize the risk of trapped blood clots or skin staining from iron deposits.
While a shorter interval between sessions may seem more convenient, it can compromise your results and increase the likelihood of complications. Your veins need adequate time to respond to each treatment for sclerotherapy to work safely and effectively.
What happens during sclerotherapy sessions?
Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect during your sclerotherapy appointments:
- Your doctor will clean and prep the treatment areas.
- Using an ultra-fine needle, the sclerosing agent is skillfully injected into the affected veins.
- You may feel a slight burning or stinging sensation as the solution is administered.
- Compression will be applied after treatment to the injection sites.
- Most sessions take 15-20 minutes. You can resume normal activities immediately afterward.
- Some bruising, swelling, and mild discomfort may occur following treatment. These usually resolve within a week.
The procedure itself is relatively quick and easy. Just be prepared for some minor side effects like tenderness and bruising afterwards. Your legs may be wrapped with compression bandages to promote vein closure and minimize swelling.
Compliance with your doctor’s post-sclerotherapy instructions is crucial for getting optimal results. Be sure to follow these tips after each session:
- Wear compression stockings continuously for 1-2 weeks. This helps collapse veins and prevent blood pooling.
- Elevate your legs for 15 minutes, 3-4 times per day, for the first several days.
- Avoid high-impact exercise for at least 72 hours post-treatment.
- Refrain from excess sun exposure until any bruising or discoloration resolves.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers as needed for achiness or discomfort.
- Avoid hot tubs and saunas for 1-2 weeks to prevent infection risk.
- Schedule a follow-up visit 4-6 weeks later to reassess your veins.
Closely following your doctor’s aftercare instructions helps maximize the effectiveness of each sclerotherapy session.
Are there any restrictions between treatments?
No major lifestyle restrictions are required between sclerotherapy sessions. You can return to work, exercise, travel, and resume most other normal activities right away. However, it’s best to avoid:
- Air travel for 24-48 hours to minimize risk of deep vein thrombosis.
- Extreme heat such as saunas, hot baths, and sunbathing for 1-2 weeks.
- High-impact exercise like running or weightlifting for 3-5 days.
- Alcohol use for 24-48 hours, as it can increase swelling and bleeding risk.
- Aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, and other blood thinners for several days unless prescribed by your doctor.
Aside from these minor limitations in the first few days following treatment, you can resume life as normal while waiting for your next sclerotherapy appointment.
What results can you expect?
With properly spaced out sclerotherapy sessions, most patients see major improvements in the appearance of treated spider and varicose veins. Typical results include:
- At least 75% fewer visible veins following the full course of treatment
- Significantly reduced feelings of achiness, heaviness, and discomfort
- Improved skin tone and texture as bulging veins disappear
- Enhanced overall cosmetic appearance of the legs
Some veins may not fully disappear with sclerotherapy alone. However, excellent cosmetic improvements are achieved for most patients who complete the recommended number of sessions.
How long do results last?
For many patients, the improvements achieved with sclerotherapy are semi-permanent. Over time, however, some treated veins can reopen or new spider veins may emerge. On average, sclerotherapy results last:
- 2-5 years for smaller spider veins
- 4-10 years for reticular veins
- 7-15 years for larger varicose veins
Periodic maintenance sessions are sometimes advised to sustain optimal results long-term. But most patients enjoy lasting improvement for many years following their initial course of sclerotherapy treatments when performed correctly.
What factors influence results?
Several factors play a role in the overall success of sclerotherapy for eliminating unwanted veins:
- Vein size – Smaller veins have higher closure rates with fewer treatments needed.
- Location – Veins on the thighs and calves respond better than veins on the ankles or feet.
- Age – Younger patients tend to achieve better results more quickly.
- Genetics – Those with a family history of varicose veins may require more sessions.
- Lifestyle habits – Weight management, exercise, hydration and leg elevation foster better outcomes.
- Compliance with compression and aftercare – This is crucial for optimal success.
Make sure to follow your doctor’s post-treatment recommendations diligently to get the best possible vein improvements with sclerotherapy.
Are there any risks or side effects?
When performed correctly by a trained specialist, sclerotherapy is very safe with few complications. Potential side effects can include:
- Mild pain, swelling, redness or bruising at injection sites
- Raised areas of trapped blood that gradually resolve (phlebitis)
- Hyperpigmentation or dark spots that fade over time
- Superficial thrombophlebitis (blood clotting)
- Rare allergic reaction to the sclerosing solution
- Skin ulceration or necrosis (extremely rare)
More serious vascular complications like deep vein thrombosis are very unlikely when sclerotherapy is spaced properly. Maintaining the recommended 4-6 week gap between sessions minimizes virtually all potential risks.
Should you stagger treatments between legs?
Most doctors recommend staggering sclerotherapy sessions between your right and left leg instead of treating both legs simultaneously. Here’s why:
- It allows you to remain mobile after treatment instead of having both legs impaired.
- Staggering legs minimizes the amount of sclerosing agent in your body at any one time.
- It may help decrease any minor side effects like pain, swelling and bruising.
- You can compare visible progress between your two legs.
- Allows you to properly elevate each leg and wear compression stockings as directed.
Unless you only need a single session, staggering treatments often provides better comfort and mobility.
Frequently asked questions
How many days should you wait between sessions?
Most doctors advise waiting 4-6 full weeks between sclerotherapy sessions on the same area. This allows the veins to fully close off and your body time to absorb the treated veins.
Can you have sclerotherapy done on two consecutive days?
Treating the same leg two days in a row is never recommended. Having sessions too close together increases the risks without improving results.
What happens if you have sclerotherapy too frequently?
Potential complications from having sclerotherapy less than 4 weeks apart can include trapped blood clots, skin damage, allergic reactions, and inadequate closure of veins.
Can you have two sessions within one month?
Most experts advise against having more than one sclerotherapy session within a 4-6 week period on the same treatment area. The sclerosing medication needs adequate time to work.
Is it better to do double sessions?
Simultaneous treatment on both legs is not recommended. Spacing sessions 4-6 weeks apart and staggering treatments between legs is preferred for safety and mobility.
When undergoing sclerotherapy to eliminate spider veins and varicose veins, patience is key. Most dermatologists recommend waiting 4-6 full weeks between treatment sessions on the same area. This spacing allows the injected veins adequate time to fully close off and restore normal circulation patterns in the legs.
While some patients may be eager to complete their course of sclerotherapy quickly, interventions that are too frequent or close together can trap blood, cause skin damage, and limit the overall effectiveness. By pacing treatments properly, you’ll get the best results with the fewest complications.
Make sure to follow all of your doctor’s post-procedure recommendations for compression, elevation, and avoiding certain activities as well. With moderate exercise, regular leg elevation, and properly timed sclerotherapy sessions, you’ll be showing off your gorgeous vein-free legs in no time!