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What is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a nonsurgical way to treat certain types of vascular malformations. Vascular malformations are abnormal blood vessels or lymphatic channels that develop before a baby is born.

These can causes problems and pain.

Using special equipment, a doctor places a small needle into the vascular malformation and directly injects a medication into the lesion. The medication purposefully causes irritation to close down the abnormal vessels and shrink the malformation. There are several different medications that the doctor may use.

More than one injection may be needed. The procedure takes about an hour. Benefits can take up to two months to be seen.

What is the purpose of sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is used to decrease the size of malformations. It may also be used to help improve pain related to malformations. Sclerotherapy is often used in combination with other treatments such as compression therapy.

Your child will receive general anesthesia. He or she will not have pain during the procedure. Your child may have medication prescribed following the procedure to help with pain.

What should I expect before a sclerotherapy procedure?

You will be given information from the nurse when your child’s procedure is scheduled. Your child may need be seen in the Hemangioma and Vascular Malformation Center or the interventional clinic before scheduling the procedure. The doctor will talk about the treatment plan with you at the clinic visit.

On the day of the procedure, you will be able to stay with your child until anesthesia is given. You will be escorted to the surgical waiting area while your child is in the procedure. The doctor will talk to you afterwards to let you know how the procedure went.

What happens after a sclerotherapy procedure?

As your child begins to wake up from the anesthesia, he or she will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). You will be brought back to the PACU once your child is settled in. The injection areas can be swollen and bruised. This is normal. When your child is ready, he or she will be discharged home or be taken to a hospital room if staying for observation overnight.

What should I expect after discharge from the hospital?

After the procedure, your child may have some pain. Swelling and bruising slowly decrease over the first couple of weeks. In some individuals, the swelling and bruising can take up to two months to completely go away. It is important that you do not give aspirin or medications that contain aspirin for two weeks before or after the procedure. Many patients require more than one sclerotherapy procedures. The doctor will discuss this with you on a case by case basis.

What limitations do I or my child have after sclerotherapy?

Your child will be allowed to shower after 24 hours and take a bath after two days. Patients having sclerotherapy to the leg or pelvic area may need crutches and/or a wheelchair for five-seven days after the procedure. Heavy lifting and contact sports should be avoided for two weeks. Your child may have an ACE wrap to the site of the sclerotherapy at first. After the procedure, regular compression garments should be used as soon as possible once tolerated.

What are the possible complications of sclerotherapy?

Complications may include blistering, scarring and other skin issues. Allergic reactions, infection, nerve damage, and blood clots are rare potential complications. Complications are uncommon.

Call Your Child's Doctor If:

Call if you have any questions or concerns, or if you or your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding from the area treated
  • Severe or progressive swelling or redness
  • Fever over 101º F rectally or orally, or over 100º F under the arm
  • Pain that does not go away with medication
  • Blackened areas of skin
  • Blisters

Last Updated 08/2022

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