Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins

Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins

Treatment Overview

Sclerotherapy uses an injection of a special chemical (sclerosant) into a varicose vein or spider veins. The injection damages and scars the inside lining of the vein. This causes the vein to close.

During this procedure, the affected leg is propped up to drain blood. Then the sclerosant is injected into the varicose or spider vein. This is done in a doctor's office or clinic. It takes 5 to 30 minutes. How long it takes depends on how many veins are treated and how big they are.

After the injection is given, pressure is applied over the veins. This is to prevent blood returning to the veins when you stand up. You may need to wear compression stockings for several days or weeks to maintain the pressure.

Sclerotherapy may be painful. The shot of sclerosant can cause a feeling of burning or cramping for a few minutes in the area where the shot was given. You may need repeated sessions and many injections each session. It depends on how bad the varicose and spider veins are and what type of sclerosant is used.

A newer, less invasive technique allows your doctor to inject sclerosant with a catheter. The catheter and sclerosant are guided to the affected vein with the help of duplex ultrasound. This process allows sclerotherapy treatment to be used on larger varicose veins. Previously, these large veins could only be treated surgically with ligation and stripping, in which larger varicose veins are tied off and removed.

What To Expect

What To Expect

For most people, sclerotherapy doesn't require any recovery period. After the treatment, you will likely be able to walk right away. Avoid strenuous exercise for 1 week after the procedure. Walk every day for at least 10 minutes. Try not to sit or lie down for long periods of time.

For the first 2 weeks after the procedure, avoid exposing your legs to the sun.

You'll probably have to wear compression stockings for a short time after having sclerotherapy.

Why It Is Done

Why It Is Done

Sclerotherapy is used to treat:

  • Spider veins and small veins that aren't causing more serious problems.
  • Smaller varicose veins that come back after vein-stripping surgery.
  • Larger varicose veins, when less invasive techniques are used.

It may be done on its own or as a follow-up to surgery.

Sclerotherapy should not be done if you:

  • Are pregnant or nursing. Experts don't know if the chemical (sclerosant) causes birth defects or gets into breast milk.
  • Have a history of allergy to sclerosant or similar substances.
  • Have blood clots or inflammation in the deep leg veins (deep vein thrombosis).

Learn more

How Well It Works

How Well It Works

Sclerotherapy costs less than surgery, requires no hospital stay, and allows a quicker return to work and normal activities.

Sclerotherapy can reduce symptoms and improve the look of the skin. It works in about 80 out of 100 people. It doesn't work for about 20 out of 100 people who have the procedure. footnote 1

Risks

Risks

The risks of sclerotherapy include:

  • Skin color changes along the treated vein. This is the most common side effect of sclerotherapy. The discoloration may take 6 to 12 months to go away. In some people, it may be permanent.
  • Failure of treatment to prevent varicose veins from returning.
  • Itching, bruising, pain, and blistering where the veins were treated.
  • Scarring from ulcers or death of the tissue around the treated vein (skin or fat necrosis). This can happen if sclerosant is injected outside a vein or if sclerosant escapes through the wall of a weakened vein.
  • A mild or severe (anaphylactic) reaction to the sclerosant. (Severe reaction is very rare but can be life-threatening.)
  • Blood clots or damage in the deep vein system.
References

References

Citations

  1. Van den Bos R, et al. (2009). Endovenous therapies of lower extremity varicosities: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 49(1): 230–239.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details