Foam Sclerotherapy Vein Therapy - Austin Texas
What is Foam Sclerotherapy? Foam sclerotherapy is a special type of medical treatment that has traditionally been utilized to treat reticular veins and smaller varicose veins of the legs. It has long been the preferred method for the treatment of medium-sized veins of the legs that range in size from 1 to 3 mm in diameter. Foam sclerotherapy tends to be a much more effective treatment for medium-sized leg veins compared to conventional non-foam sclerotherapy. More recently, with the FDA approval of Varithena® foam, larger varicose veins and deeper saphenous veins of the leg can also be treated with this method.
Foam” refers to the appearance of the vein medication, which looks very similar to foam shaving cream. It has a white frothy appearance. The foam medications are specifically designed to cause abnormal veins to close and fade. The reason that foam sclerotherapy medications are more effective for larger veins than traditional non-foam medications is that the foam consistency increased the potency of the drug and prolongs the length of drug contact with the vein wall before the drug inactivates. The reaction between the foam drug and the vein wall causes the internal lining of the vein wall (the endothelium) to die and scar closed. Foam sclerotherapy has become the preferred method for the treatment of reticular veins and small varicose veins of the legs. It is preferred over laser therapy or surgical therapy in most cases.
How Is Foam Sclerotherapy Performed?
The procedure is performed in the doctor’s office. While lying down on a procedure table a small needle is inserted into the abnormal vein cluster and then the medication is slowly injected into the vein lumen. The drug interacts locally at the level of the vein wall and then quickly deactivates The vein changes color as the medication is injected, confirming successful placement of the drug. Ultrasound imaging is often utilized to confirm that an appropriate amount of medication is filling the abnormal veins and to confirm that any abnormal “feeding veins” beneath the skin surface are also filled successfully with medication. The needle is then removed and a cotton ball and tape are then applied at the site to minimize bruising. A compression stocking is then applied to the leg. A brief video demonstration is seen below:
What Medications are Used During Foam Sclerotherapy?
We utilize FDA-approved sclerotherapy medications. This includes the use of Polidocanol (trade names of Asclera and Varithena) and another drug known as Sotradecol. The medications do not tend to cause pain as they are injected, so the treatment is very well tolerated.
What Are the Risks of Foam Sclerotherapy?
Foam sclerotherapy has been around for decades and has been found to be a very safe procedure. But all procedures have some associated risks. The most common side effect from foam sclerotherapy is some discoloration of the skin in the region of the treated vein(s). In follow-up of patients that developed this side effect in the past, it has been determined that in the majority of patients the discoloration of the skin resolves itself spontaneously over time. Another risk of sclerotherapy is an allergic reaction to the drug, which has a < 1% chance of occurring.
While there are some risks involved, most patients who undergo the therapy have no side effects and are pleased with the results of the treatment.
Is Foam Sclerotherapy Covered By Health Insurance
Maybe. For symptomatic varicose veins, insurance often covers the therapy to treat them. Often insurance companies will require an ultrasound of the leg veins to document the severity of the veins before they will authorize treatment. Most insurance policies allow foam sclerotherapy as a covered benefit, but some specific policies may exclude vein treatments. Our office will verify with your insurance if we think that you are a candidate for the treatment.
For further information or to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss foam sclerotherapy with our board-certified vein specialist, please call (512) 339-9100.