Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment used to eliminate spider veins and varicose veins. During this procedure, a solution is injected directly into the affected veins, causing them to contract and eventually fade away. This helps restore normal blood circulation and reduces symptoms like aching, burning, swelling, and discomfort in the legs.
One of the most important parts of the treatment process is wearing compression stockings or bandages after your sclerotherapy sessions. These provide gradual compression to the treated veins and are essential for minimizing complications and maximizing results. Unfortunately, many patients underestimate the importance of compression after sclerotherapy.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of why compression therapy is so crucial following sclerotherapy and the risks involved if compression stockings are not worn as directed. We will examine how compression works, why it is recommended, and common problems that can occur without it. Continue reading to learn all about the vital role of compression stockings after varicose vein and spider vein treatments.
How Compression Stockings Work After Sclerotherapy
Compression stockings are specially designed to apply gentle, sustained pressure to the legs. This compression serves several important functions:
- It prevents blood from pooling in treated veins. After sclerotherapy, veins are damaged and may no longer carry blood as effectively. Compression keeps blood moving so it doesn’t stagnate.
- It minimizes inflammation and irritation. The pressure helps reduce internal swelling and discomfort that occurs naturally after sclerotherapy.
- It supports vein closure and healing. By applying gentle compression, stockings help collapse vein walls and stick together as they heal.
- It improves overall blood flow. As treated veins close with compression therapy, blood gets rerouted into healthier veins.
- It speeds the resolution of spider veins. The constant pressure flattens and helps fade spider veins over time.
Compression should be worn on the treated leg for 24 hours a day in the first 1-2 weeks after sclerotherapy. Over time, your provider will advise you to gradually reduce the amount of time spent wearing them. However, compression is considered crucial for at least the first 2 weeks post-treatment.
Why Compression Stockings Are Recommended After Sclerotherapy
All major health organizations including the American College of Phlebology, American Venous Forum, and American College of Radiology recommend wearing compression stockings after sclerotherapy. This is considered the standard of care. Here’s why it is so important:
- Minimizes Complications: Consistent compression reduces the chances of all potential complications, including bruising, pigmentation, thrombophlebitis, and more.
- Improves Efficacy: Studies show compression increases the success rates of sclerotherapy for eliminating spider veins and varicose veins.
- Faster Recovery: Compression minimizes achiness, throbbing, and fatigue after sclerotherapy. This helps you get back to normal activity sooner.
- Prevents Recurrence: The pressure helps collapse veins and reduces chances of new veins redeveloping over time.
- Comfort: The stockings provide gentle support that reduces heaviness and discomfort in the legs.
For these reasons, compression stockings are considered vital for optimal results and recovery after sclerotherapy treatments. All patients are strongly advised to comply with compression protocols.
Risks and Complications of Not Wearing Compression Stockings
Failing to wear doctor-recommended compression stockings after sclerotherapy can negatively impact treatment outcomes. Potential problems include:
Without sufficient compression, blood can pool inside treated veins instead of circulating properly. This raises the risk of blood clots or thrombophlebitisv developing days or weeks after sclerotherapy. Symptoms of clotting include:
- Tenderness, redness, warmth and hard lumps along a vein
- Unexplained swelling in legs
- New onset of pain in the calf or thighs
Discoloration or brownish dotted lines can appear along injected veins if inflammation is not minimized with compression. This hyperpigmentation may slowly fade over many months.
New Spider Veins
Failing to wear compression allows damaged veins to reopen and connect with other small veins. This can result in new spider veins clustering around treated areas within 2-6 weeks of sclerotherapy.
Persistent Swelling & Discomfort
Compression minimizes internal swelling, throbbing, achiness and heaviness after sclerotherapy. Without it, these annoying symptoms can persist for weeks or months instead of days.
Poor Vein Elimination
Studies clearly show that skipping compression stockings after sclerotherapy results in higher rates of vascular complications and lower rates of complete vein elimination.
In rare cases, a life-threatening complication like a deep vein thrombosis can even develop if compression is not utilized. Following your provider’s advised compression protocol is crucial for your safety after varicose vein or spider vein treatments.
When to Wear Compression Stockings After Sclerotherapy
Ideally, compression stockings should be worn for the first 2 weeks continuously, except for short periods when showering. After 2 weeks, most patients can begin gradually weaning down the amount of time spent wearing them. Your provider will give you clear instructions on compression use after your treatments.
Here are the general recommendations:
Week 1-2: Wear stockings 24/7 (except when bathing)
Week 3: Wear for at least 12 hours per day
Week 4: Wear for at least 8 hours per day
Week 6: Wear for at least 4 hours per day
After 6 weeks, compression is generally only needed periodically for comfort and during prolonged sitting or standing. Most patients require compression for about 2 to 3 months after all sclerotherapy treatments are completed. In some cases, stockings may be advised for longer.
It is essential to follow your individual provider’s compression instructions as they will be tailored for your specific case. Tapering down compression too rapidly can increase complications. Your legs should be continuously monitored in follow up visits as well. Call your provider promptly if you develop warning signs like excessive swelling, pain, warmth or skin changes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Compression After Sclerotherapy
When Should I Start Wearing Compression Stockings After sclerotherapy?
You should put your compression stockings on immediately after your sclerotherapy treatment, before even leaving your provider’s office. Keep them on for the next 24 hours.
How Tight Should Compression Stockings be After Sclerotherapy?
There are different compression levels, usually ranging from 20-30 mmHg pressure. Your provider will recommend the ideal compression strength needed for your individual case based on treated veins and your comfort. The stockings should fit snug but not painfully tight.
What if I Forget or Don’t Wear The Stockings Some Days?
Consistency is key, so try not to skip any compression time after sclerotherapy. But if you do forget for a short period, simply put the stockings back on as soon as possible. Let your provider know at your next visit if you missed significant compression time.
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