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What Is Compression Sclerotherapy?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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When the blood vessels of the vascular system are stressed beyond their normal functional capacity, they may sometimes expand to a point of physiological irregularity. In addition to becoming less than efficient in the transfer of blood to and from the heart, these spider or varicose veins may be aesthetically disfiguring. There are many treatments available for this common medical problem, among the most effective being compression sclerotherapy. This method uses a glue-like chemical to seal the walls of undesired vessels closed.

Compression sclerotherapy is effective primarily in two ways. Chemically, a medicine is injected directly into undesirable vessels, causing them to close. The closing method is due to the walls adhering to one another, collapsing any relevant blood flow and resulting in dead tissue. Over time, this dead tissue is removed by the body, causing the aesthetically problematic vessel to deteriorate to the point of invisibility.

The second treating aspect of compression sclerotherapy works in two ways. First, compression aids the vessels in blood flow, lightening the load caused by gravity in returning peripheral blood to central flow. This prevents vessels from becoming deformed or damaged, a process that may cause them to be superficially visible, as is the case with spider and varicose veins. Secondly, the compressing physically brings vessel walls together, which catalyzes the closing initiated by the chemical injection. Although each method of compression sclerotherapy is effective in itself, when coupled with each other, the greatest success rates are possible.

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In its infantile stages, this treatment method for disfiguring veins was first utilized in the 1850s. The original sources of this treatment are debatable, most agreeing that Dr. Cassaignaic, Dr. Debout, or Dr. Desgranges deserve most credit for early successes. As with most allopathic treatments in medicine, there have been a multitude of advancements in compression sclerotherapy that have rendered it the gold standard by today's measures of varicose and spider vein treatment.

Some patients may choose to explore all possible options before committing to compression sclerotherapy. Some alternatives to this treatment are laser therapy and foam sclerotherapy. Laser therapy uses a high-energy laser to heat vein walls, causing them to melt together and close. Foam sclerotherapy uses a similar chemical to standard sclerotherapy, the difference being a gas infusion in the foam mixture. None of the alternatives, however, seem to be as effective as compression sclerotherapy, perhaps due to its ability to cut off feeder sources, decreasing the probability of returning issues.

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