Over time, sclerotherapy makes varicose veins disappear

ON CALL

August 03, 1993|By Dr. Simeon Margolis | Dr. Simeon Margolis,Contributing Writer

Q: One of my friends told me about sclerotherapy that was used to treat her varicose veins. What is sclerotherapy? Is it an accepted form of treatment?

A: Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins resulting from a defect in venous valves that normally aid in the return of blood to the heart. Valve failure leads to a backward flow of blood (away from the heart) with venous pooling of the blood causing the varicose veins.

Sclerotherapy involves injecting into the swollen veins a solution that irritates and damages the inner lining of the veins. The damage ultimately leads to the development of scar tissue and the virtual disappearance of the treated vein. Sclerotherapy usually requires a course of about five sessions with injections into five to 10 veins at each session. The injections are relatively painless and major side effects are rare.

Although widely used in some countries for many years, sclerotherapy is a relatively new technique for physicians here.

Dr. Margolis is professor of medicine and biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

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