Modern treatment for varicose veins is much safer, with faster recovery times, than treatments of just a few years ago when surgical vein “stripping” was the norm. However, minor negative consequences still occur, though rarely. Your doctor should discuss these possible side effects with you before you decide on how you want to proceed.
With laser treatments, patients sometimes experience skin burns, changes in skin color at the treatment site or minor nerve damage. With doctors experienced in laser use, such problems are rare because the laser is directed only where it is needed to remove the diseased vein. Any burns, discoloration or tingling from a damaged nerve will be minor and in all cases will go away after a day or two.
Injecting a vein with a chemical that causes it to collapse is called sclerotherapy. Like laser therapy, sclerotherapy is proven and very safe. Short-term side effects might include redness at the point where the chemical is injected, some general swelling in your leg, or an allergic reaction to the chemical. Some veins might become lumpy before they disappear and occasionally brown lines temporarily occur at the injection site. Check out a video of the procedure.
Ambulatory phlebotomy is minor surgery. Small incisions might cause bleeding and infection. Sometimes the skin around the incision becomes numb, sore or discolored, although normal coloring usually quickly returns.
Surgery is much more likely to result in blood clots during recovery but even non-invasive treatments like laser treatment and sclerotherapy can cause blood clots to form. They almost always dissolve on their own and cause no problems. As with any time you seek medical treatment, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, and about any drugs or supplements you are taking.
No matter what treatment your doctor recommends, ask about how often complications have occurred. While an experienced doctor is more likely to perform a procedure without complications, it is also important to follow directions about how to take care of yourself immediately after treatment.