There are several possible complications or side effects from sclerotherapy. It is normal for the area to look red, slightly inflamed, and itchy after sclerotherapy. This resolves in a few hours. Bruising can occur and lasts a few days to a few weeks. The plant extract arnica can be used to help speed up the absorption of bruising.

The most common side effect is “staining”. This occurs when a successfully treated vein slowly leaks a small amount of red blood cells, causing the skin to have a brownish/bruised look. It eventually fades away, but it can take months, sometimes years, to completely disappear. The plant extract arnica can be used to help speed up stain absorption.

“Brown spots” are small (quarter inch diameter) areas of brown discoloration of the skin at the site of a sclerotherapy needle insertion. It is also caused by hemoglobin depositing in the subcutaneous tissue. They can take months or years to fade away. Sometimes they are permanent. Darker skinned people can be more prone to developing brown spots.

The worst complication of sclerotherapy is ulceration of the skin. This rare complication is caused by sclerotherapy medicine damaging the small arteries near the skin, or the skin itself, which causes the skin to die. It usually is about a dime sized spot, but it can be a larger area. Eventually, the skin grows back. It can take several months to heal.

“Matting” is a pink blush appearance of the skin that can occur after sclerotherapy. It is harmless, and sometimes can be diminished with surface laser treatment. It is caused by the formation of microscopic blood vessels in a dense, fine network. It tends to occur more commonly when hypertonic saline is used, and when treating a large, dense cluster of spider veins where multiple sclerotherapy sessions are needed.

Side effects of sclerotherapy