Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to treat varicose and spider veins, most commonly found on the legs, by collapsing them through the use of a solvent. Sclerotherapy has been used on patients since the 1930s with great success, producing increasingly effective medical, as well as cosmetic, results. Sclerotherapy is used on individuals troubled by varicose veins, either because they find them unattractive or because the diseased veins are causing unpleasant and/or dangerous symptoms, such as leg pain, cramping and difficulty standing for any length of time.
Procedure of Sclerotherapy
During sclerotherapy, a solution of saline and a sclerosant is injected into the damaged veins. This will cause irritation in the affected veins and produce their eventual collapse. During this procedure, the surgeon is guided through the use of ultrasound to ensure precision. When the weakened veins collapse, they will be reabsorbed into the body and other healthier veins will take their place in the circulatory system. The procedure usually takes less than an hour, but the patient may require more than one treatment. Some bruising is to be expected after the procedure, but usually resolves quickly.
Risks of Sclerotherapy
Although sclerotherapy is a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any medical procedure. Complications are rare, but may include:
- Blood clot, or thrombosis
- Nerve damage
- Adverse reaction to sclerosant
Recovery from Sclerotherapy
Patients are able to return home shortly after sclerotherapy. Most can return to work and resume normal activities the next day, although exercise and strenuous activities are to be avoided a week or two. Compression bandages usually need to be worn for a week after the procedure. Some improvement is usually visible immediately.
It is recommended that patients maintain a healthy weight and make exercise part of their daily routine to promote vascular health and to preserve the positive effects of the sclerotherapy.
Thermage® Radiofrequency Therapy
Thermage® therapy uses a unique form of radiofrequency energy to tighten loose or sagging skin. According to its manufacturer, Solta Medical, Inc., benefits of Thermage treatment "include the smoothing of wrinkly or uneven skin, better definition of facial features around the eyes, jaw and neckline, and even the smoothing and toning of unsightly bulges, dimples and wrinkles on the face and body." Thermage radiofrequency therapy is U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved for eyelid treatments.
Using the Thermage wand, radiofrequency energy penetrates and heats skin tissue. The heat causes collagen to contract, which tightens and "lifts" the skin. Over time, as the collagen rebuilds itself, the skin tightens even more, further smoothing the treated areas.
Thermage® Radiofrequency Therapy Treatment
The Thermage wand's treatment tip is placed against the skin, first spraying it with a coolant (cryogen), then heating it, then spraying it with cryogen again. The cryogen protects the top layer of skin as the radiofrequency energy heats the collagen in the lower layers. A newer Thermage wand has a Comfort Pulse Technology™ (CCT) feature, in which a gentle vibrating sensation has been added to make treatment more comfortable. No preparation is required before undergoing treatment.
The length of treatment depends on the size of the treatment area and its condition. The face usually takes about 45 minutes; other parts of the body can take up to 90 minutes. The majority of patients require a single treatment, although that, too, depends upon the condition of the treatment area.
Thermage® Radiofrequency Therapy Results
Results appear gradually in the 2 to 6 months after treatment, although some patients see an earlier response. Depending upon the condition of a patient's skin and how it ages, results may last up to 2 years.
Thermage® Radiofrequency Therapy Advantages
Unlike other ways of repairing loose and sagging skin, Thermage treatment has a number of advantages. They include:
- No significant recovery period or downtime
- Visible results after 1 to 2 treatments
- Continued improvement to skin over time
- No incisions are necessary
- Special care not required post-treatment
Side effects of Thermage therapy are rare, but can include treatment-site redness, bumps or blisters.