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Sclerotherapy is a procedure to treat some types of blood vessels or parts of your lymph system that aren’t formed in the usual way. They may be crooked, twisted, or just abnormal. These abnormal clusters of vessels or lymph structures usually start to develop before you were born. A solution called a sclerosing agent or sclerosant is injected into the abnormal area using imaging, like ultrasound or fluoroscopy. This type of imaging allows for a constant view of the area being treated.
You may need to wear compression stockings or have a tight bandage or dressing over the site after your procedure. Your care provider will talk to you how long you need to have pressure on the site.
If you have no problems after the procedure, you can go home and rest for the day. Have a responsible adult take you home – do not drive yourself. If you live out of town, it’s a good idea for you to stay somewhere overnight within 1 hour of an emergency care hospital. Don’t drive for the next 24 hours or while you’re taking strong pain medicine.
Local freezing medicine may have been used to numb the skin and tissue around the procedure site. This freezing will gradually wear off, and you may feel some discomfort.
If you had a general anesthetic during your procedure, follow the post anesthesia discharge instructions carefully.
You may have a dressing covering the procedure site when you leave the hospital or clinic. Leave the dressing on until the morning after your procedure, then it may be removed. It’s important to keep the site clean and dry.
Monitor the area under your compression garment or bandages. Loosen them if you have signs of decreased circulation. This could include loss of feeling (numbness), skin cool to touch, or if the colour is slow to return to the area when pressed (more than 3 or 4 seconds). Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how long you’ll need to wear compression garments or bandages after your procedure.
You may shower 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, unless you’ve been given other instructions. Pat the incision dry instead of rubbing it. Avoid creams, lotions, and ointments on the procedure site until it’s completely healed (no longer has a scab). If you’re wearing compression garments or bandages you may remove them to shower. Remember to put them back on after your shower.
Don’t soak the procedure site in a bath, hot tub, or swimming pool until it is completely healed (no longer has a scab).
Raise the treated area as much as possible to help lessen swelling for the first few days. Some people have more swelling than others. The swelling is expected and will go away over the next 2 to 4 weeks.
Depending on the type of sclerosing agent that was injected, you may need to avoid any activity that may cause skin cuts or scrapes, or causes injury, such as shaving or contact sports. You may also need to be careful with any body fluids for 48 hours. Please refer to Handling body fluids and waste if you were told you received a known hazard medicine.
Avoid exposure to sunlight, and hot showers or hot tubs. These may cause skin staining which may last for several months. Talk to your healthcare provider about when you can go back to these activities.
If you develop blisters, please follow Blister Care.
Each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the advice below to feel better as quickly as possible.
Managing your pain
Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. If the healthcare provider gave you a prescription for pain medicine, take it as prescribed.
You may have discomfort or pain at the procedure site. Usually this gets less after 1 to 3 days. Some people have pain for longer, each person is different. You can use pain medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed to help control your pain.
Don’t take any medicine that has ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) in it. Ibuprofen will lower the intended inflammatory response that is caused by the sclerosing agent.
You may start taking your usual medicines, including blood thinners as directed by your healthcare provider.
The location and size of the area treated may limit the activity that you can do. You may go back to doing most of your usual activities the day after the procedure depending on how you feel. If there are limits to how much or what kind of activity you should do, you’ll get instructions from your healthcare provider before you go home.
Please make sure to drink plenty of fluids. This will help keep you hydrated and help flush any medicines from the procedure out of your system. If you have liver, heart or kidney disease and need to limit fluids, talk with your healthcare provider before you start drinking more.
You can return to your normal diet as soon as you leave the hospital or clinic. If you have an upset stomach, try bland, low fat foods such as toast, plain rice, and yogurt.
Returning to Work and School
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about when you can return to work or school. If your job requires heavy lifting, machinery, or strenuous activity be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about this and when you should return to work.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if you have:
severe trouble breathing
sudden chest pain or shortness of breath
a large amount of bleeding from the procedure site that doesn’t stop with pressure
Call your healthcare provider, Health Link at 811, or seek medical care right away if you have:
severe discomfort or pain that doesn’t go away with pain medicine
bruising or swelling that is larger or opens the incision or site where the sclerosing agent was injected
signs of infection:
persistent redness or warmth at or around the site, including red streaks from the site
drainage from the site
fever over 38ºC (100.4 ºF) or chills
change in colour or temperature of the limb on the side of the body where the sclerotherapy was done (for example, your foot turns a pale blue or white or is cool to the touch)
any bleeding from the site that doesn’t stop with pressure
signs of a blood clot, such as:
pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin
redness and swelling in your leg or groin
Watch closely for any changes in your health and be sure to contact your healthcare provider or Health Link if you have any problems.
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_diagnosticimaging_sclerotherapy_ac
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: October 25, 2021
Author: Diagnostic Imaging, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.