Foam Sclerotherapy (Varicofoam)
Foam Sclerotherapy: What is Foam Sclerotherapy? (Varicofoam)
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a substance (sclerosant) into the varicose veins which seals off the varicose veins, preventing blood flowing through them. While this works fine for small veins, the sclerosant is inactivated by blood and does not work well for large veins.
Recently it has been discovered* that if the sclerosant is mixed with air to form foam, then it pushes the blood out of the vein. This makes it much more effective at treating larger veins and makes it a more useful treatment.
The other difference between foam sclerotherapy and standard sclerotherapy is that an ultrasound scanner is used to observe the foam and check that the entire vein is treated. This also helps to make it more effective. Once the vein has been treated, it is compressed using a combination of bandages and elastic stockings. This is an important part of helping to seal off the vein.
What to expect after foam sclerotherapy of varicose veins
You will have your leg in a bandage with a stocking over the top of it. You can do whatever you feel confortable with and usually there is minimal discomfort. If you do notice some pain I suggest you try ibuprofen (e.g. nurofen). If needed add some paracetamol to this as well. After a week you can take off the stocking and the bandage. And then re-apply the stocking. You should wear this day and night for another week, i.e. two weeks in total (but you can take it off for a bath or shower).
You may notice that the treated vein feels warm, hard and tender to the touch (phlebitis) this is quite common and will settle over time, take some nurofen or use some nurofen gel if you need to.
You can drive as soon as you feel able to change gear and do an emergency stop as well as normal (usually the next day). You can go back to work as soon as you feel comfortable. You can start exercise as soon as you wish but may find this awkward while wearing both stocking and bandage (first week). Be guided by what feels comfortable.
Are there any complications associated with Varicofoam?
All procedures carry some risks. The particular risks of Varicofoam are reactions to the injection which are very rare. It is possible that blistering of the skin can occur. There is a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), although this risk is very small and there is also a DVT risk with standard surgery.
Transient visual disturbance has been reported as a very rare complication. In my opinion the major downside of foam sclerotherapy compared with the VNUS and EVLT is that if plebitis occurs, it can take weeks or even months to settle down fully. Pigmentation of the skin (a brownish area) can occur, and while it usually settles this too can take several months.
* Like so many "new" discoveries, this was recognised years ago but forgotten about. Actually it is a rediscovery.