This painless procedure uses a vein light to make veins appear fluorescent in color, after which they are injected with a medicine (called a sclerosant or a sclerosing solution, polidoxino) to shrink malformed, damaged, or otherwise problematic areas of blood vessels (or, in some cases, lymph vessels). It’s a common procedure for treating varicose veins, spider veins, and hemorrhoids as well as congenital blood vessel malformations in children.
The sclerosant first shrinks the blood vessel, and then as less blood flows through the blood vessel over time, the vessel is re-absorbed by the body over a few weeks. Foam sclerotherapy uses a foam sclerosing solution rather than a liquid one. The foam technique requires 2-3 needles which inject the sclerosant medication and a gas (carbon dioxide). The gas causes the sclerosant to expand to fill the blood vessel. Another advantage of the foam is that it can’t mix with the blood and become diluted, so it is allowed to have maximum effect.
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that takes only about ten minutes to perform. In some cases the procedure must be repeated for the blood vessel to dissolve completely. Complications are rare, but may include allergic reaction, redness in the treatment area, visual disturbances, and a blood clot developing in the treated blood vessel. Foam sclerotherapy is a relatively safe procedure and is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).