Sclerotherapy is a type of minimally invasive treatment used to treat swollen, enlarged veins. It is commonly used to treat varicose or spider veins, but it can also be used in the management of hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and esophageal varices.
During the procedure, an irritant solution is injected into the problem blood vessel, which causes the lining of the veins to swell and stick together, cutting off blood flow. The veins collapse, cutting off bleeding, and a small amount of scar tissue forms. The veins shrink and eventually disappear. In the case of rectal prolapse, the scar tissue formed by the injection helps hold the rectum in place. The treatment of esophageal varices, or large, swollen veins in the throat, is slightly more complicated and requires the use of an endoscope, or lighted tube placed in the mouth.
Sclerotherapy is a useful procedure particularly because it stops treated veins from bleeding, so it can be used by patients on blood thinners who cannot have surgery. The painless procedure is typically performed in a doctor’s office and takes about 30 minutes. Although the injected area may initially have a bruised or brown look, it heals quickly.