What is Sclerofoam?
Foam sclerotherapy, also referred to as sclerofoam, is a minimally-invasive procedure for eliminating small to medium-sized varicose veins. The procedure involves the injection of a foam sclerosing agent directly into the affected vein. If the vein is below the surface of the skin, ultrasound imaging may be used to help the physician locate the affected vein, for better precision and less risk during treatment.
The sclerosing agent damages the vein walls, causing the vein to become blocked. The treated vein eventually gets reabsorbed by the body and replaced with tissue. Blood is rerouted through healthy veins nearby.
Sclerofoam is a solution that combines sclerosing liquid and other agents that creates a thick, foam-like consistency similar to shaving cream. The thicker consistency allows the solution to cover more area inside a vessel, so it can be used for larger veins than traditional liquid sclerotherapy. It also makes the solution easier to see on ultrasound, so the physician can more accurately track the path of the solution as it moves through the affected vein.
When is it done?
Sclerofoam offers some advantage over sclerotherapy treatments using a liquid solution. First, the thicker agent displaces blood in the veins, which allows the sclerosing agent to work more effectively. Second, the thicker solution offers better precision, since the physician can use ultrasound technology to guide the solution directly into the affected veins.
Sclerofoam offers versatility not seen with liquid sclerosing agents. The thicker solution may work on slightly larger varicose veins than those addressed by traditional sclerotherapy. The procedure can also be used on veins below the surface of the leg, since ultrasound can be used to track the needle to the proper location. Results of sclerofoam also seem to appear faster and often with just one treatment session.
How does the procedure work?
Sclerofoam is usually performed in a physician’s office as an outpatient procedure. The treatment area will be cleaned and a topical anesthetic may be applied to enhance patient comfort during the procedure. The sclerosing agent is injected directly into the affected vein, using very fine needles and ultrasound technology to guide the way, if necessary.
The total number of injections will depend on the size and number of veins to be treated. Once the injections are administered, ultrasound may also be used to track the progress of the solution. Most sclerofoam procedures take between 30 minutes and one hour to complete. Compression dressings may be applied at the end to prevent additional bleeding from the injection sites.
What is the recovery like?
Most patients are able to return to regular activities immediately after sclerofoam treatment. Strenuous physical exercise, sunbathing and hot baths may be discouraged for the first few days after the procedure. The most common side effects from sclerofoam are swelling and bruising at the injection sites, which will dissipate on their own within a few days.
Walking is encouraged after sclerofoam treatments, to help promote healthy blood flow and prevent blood clots. Some patients may also be given compression stockings to wear for a number of days after treatment, to encourage healing at the injection sites. Since no anesthesia or sedation is provided prior to the procedure, most patients can even drive themselves home afterward.
When will the results appear?
Results of sclerofoam treatments are often seen right after the procedure. Results will continue to improve over the next few weeks, as affected veins are gradually reabsorbed by the body. If symptoms were experienced with the varicose veins, those symptoms may also improve considerably right after treatment.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
Some patients will achieve desired results after a single sclerofoam treatment. However, others may need two or more treatment sessions to eliminate all the affected veins in the area. Treatment sessions are generally spaced approximately four weeks apart, to allow for full healing of the area. In some cases, sclerofoam may be combined with other types of vein treatments to achieve the best possible results.
Will veins reappear after treatment?
Veins treated with sclerofoam eventually disappear and are reabsorbed by the body. However, treatment of one affected vein does not prevent the appearance of additional varicose veins in the future. The condition that caused the faulty valves in the initial vein may strike other veins as well. If more varicose veins do appear in the future, additional treatments may be needed to eliminate them.
What is the cost of sclerofoam?
Sclerofoam treatment sessions may cost anywhere from $200 to $500. Price is dependent on the area of the country where the procedure is performed and the number and size of the veins to be addressed. If sclerofoam is performed as a purely cosmetic procedure, it is unlikely insurance will provide coverage for treatment. Physicians often provide their own financing arrangements to make treatment more affordable for patients.