Advice to patients having varicose vein injections
- About the treatment: injection (sclerosant) therapy is usually only suitable for relatively small varicose veins and thread veins that are unsightly but cause no symptoms. It works by making the vein wall sticky so that when the compression bandage is applied, the vein wall sticks to itself, thus obliterating the vein lumen.
- Before your next visit: please make sure you have stopped taking the oral contraceptive pill which may increase the risk of serious thrombosis (DVT). This should be stopped at least one month before your appointment and it is important to use another contraception method. There is little evidence that low dose ”mini-pills” and hormone replacement therapy(HRT) need to be stopped. If you have a job that involves a lot of standing, please arrange to have a few days off after injection. Avoid commitments that will prevent you from resting for the first few days after treatment.
- At the clinic: a small amount of fluid ( sclerosant) is injected into the vein at one or more sites and a pad applied. A bandage is then put onto the leg and a stocking applied to prevent the bandage from working loose. Usually only one leg is treated at one visit and repeat injections will be required if both legs are affected or you have many veins on one leg. Please do not drive yourself home from the clinic, arrange for someone to collect you or take a bus or taxi.
- Afterwards: for the first 24 hours rest as much as possible, sitting with the feet elevated above the bottom but take several short walks and try to avoid standing still for any length of time, do this daily for the full four weeks that the legs are bandaged. After one week you should remove the bandage and pads and replace the stocking which should be worn at all times during the day but can be removed in bed and when taking a bath or shower. You may now drive or return to sports and should continue to do plenty of walking and avoid standing. The success of injection treatment relies upon the pressure that the bandages and stocking apply to the injected area. Wear the stocking for at least 4 weeks or longer until the leg is completely comfortable on standing. You may return to The Pill at your next period and should continue dieting if overweight.
- What to expect after the injections: over the first few weeks following the injection, any slight discomfort, hardness or tenderness at the injection site(s) should gradually subside. If there is excessive redness, swelling or tenderness, this means you should rest more with the leg raised so that the heel is higher than the hip. While most patients experience no problems after injection of varicose veins, some may experience the following:
- a persistent hard ”cord” in the line of the vein
- brown staining of the skin in the line of the vein
- rarely, ulceration of the skin at the injection site
- failure of the injection to obliterate the vein
For the future it may be advisable for you to wear light support stockings or tights to try to prevent the occurrence of further varicose veins.