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How to Talk to Patients About Sclerotherapy

Patients with telangiectasia and reticular veins may benefit from sclerotherapy, but they are unlikely to have much prior knowledge about the procedure. We recommend that surgeons and aesthetic clinicians ensure that the prospective patient is fully informed about their condition, what sclerotherapy entails, and the effectiveness of the treatment.

About Sclerotherapy If the patient is fully informed, they will have realistic expectations about the treatment, and are much more likely to be satisfied.

Explain all the complicated medical terms used. If it is a face-to-face consultation, the clinician will be able to judge whether the patient needs further explanation. However, if this information is given online, or printed, it is a good idea to define the complicated medical terms the first time they are used.

Explaining telangiectasia and reticular veins

Patients presenting with telangiectasia and reticular veins are probably more familiar with the terms spider veins and thread veins. Define telangiectases, perhaps referring to them as spider veins, as widened tiny blood vessels. Define reticular veins, explaining that these veins are usually bluish in hue.

Explain that spider veins are less than 1mm in diameter, and reticular veins are usually from 1mm to 3mm in diameter.

Patients will be reassured by learning that telangiectases and reticular veins are common, and can be treated. Explaining the possible causes may be helpful, for example how pregnancy can apply large amounts of pressure on venules, causing them to widen.

Patients will also be reassured by before and after photos of successful sclerotherapies performed at the clinic of their choice.

Explaining sclerotherapy: treatment

Explain the treatment in clear, simple terms: the veins will be directly injected with a sclerosant solution which damages the internal lining of the vein. Perhaps illustrations or graphics will help the patient understand that the blood clotting within the damaged vein collapses it, and it is then destroyed by the patients’ own body and disappears.

Be prepared to explain the sclerosant solution used at your clinic, though some patients may not be interested in the chemical breakdown.

If the patient has both telangiectasia and reticular veins, describe the procedure of the treatment: reticular veins treated first, and then telangiectasia, to avoid recurrence of the telangiectasia.

Explain that the patient must wear compression stockings after treatment.

Explaining sclerotherapy: effectiveness

The patients should know how long sclerotherapy takes. Treatment duration depends on each individual case, of course. Patients must know that the treated veins fade away after a few weeks, though occasionally up to eight weeks. They should also know that they may need two or three sessions.

Patients must also be aware that new spider veins could develop in the future.

Patients must also be prepared for side effects, usually swelling, bruising, and itching.

Resources used in researching this article include the Vein Directory’s FAQ