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Sclerotherapy Drug Asclera Treats Varicose Veins

‘Tis the season to bare skin, buy tanning products and bust out long-forgotten beachwear and shorts. But what if someone’s summer look is hindered by discolored, bulging varicose veins? For years now vein specialists have been able to offer minimally invasive treatment for bothersome varicose veins and spider veins, including the FDA-approved Asclera™ procedure.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the Asclera procedure product for use in the United States in March 2010. It has been available to American consumers for approximately 22 months this April. Since its launch the injectable solution has been met with a high degree of success in eliminating surface-lying varicose veins. Essentially the liquid sclerosant is injected directly into the varicose veins to encourage collapse of the damaged vascular tissue.

According to reporters at the New York Times, Asclera is distributed by BioForm Medical, which is a sub-company of Merz Aesthetics. Technically Asclera is the brand name form of polidocanol, a drug that treats spider veins, reticular veins and bulging varicose veins smaller than 3 mm in diameter. Polidocanol was the leading sclerosant agent in Europe for a long time before its introduction to the United States, mostly for its record of safe varicose veins removal.

Former President of the American College of Phlebology Dr. Nick Morrison told the New York Times that polidocanol has demonstrated minimal risk of skin discoloration, sores and matting sometimes associated with sclerotherapy treatment of varicose veins.

Varicose veins occur when already-weakened vein walls become stretched out. The weakened varicose veins inhibit free flow of blood back toward the heart, which in turn causes blood to pool inside the vein. Pooled blood can result in bulging varicose veins visible from the outside. Aging, genetic pre-disposition and standing or sitting for a long period of time are risk factors connected to the development of varicose veins.

A survey issued in 2008 by Vein Clinics of America revealed that as many as 87 percent of patients with varicose veins are uninterested in seeking treatment. However, experts said that varicose veins removal could be beneficial not only cosmetically but also medically, as the side effects of varicose veins included leg pain, swelling, heaviness and even surface ulcers.

The most popular form of varicose veins removal is sclerotherapy. The sclerotherapy treatment sometimes requires a series of sessions over the course of a few months, depending on the severity of the bulging varicose veins. A few years ago, vein doctors used two primary injection solutions: sodium tetradecyl sulphate (STS) and polidocanol. Sodium tetradecyl sulphate has been backed by the FDA for a long time, but polidocanol wasn’t until researchers created Asclera. According to vein specialists such as Dr. Morrison, some vein doctors took the risk and used unapproved polidocanol anyway, importing the drug from overseas or specially ordering it from pharmacies. Dr. Morrison said that these doctors wanted to give their varicose veins patients the best treatment out there, even if it made them more vulnerable from a legal standpoint.

The March 2010 FDA approval Asclera had numerous benefits for patients with varicose veins and spider veins. Use of polidocanol could be more regulated, reducing the risk of incorrect dosage prescribed in pharmacies. Dr. Robert Weiss, a dermatologist who is the head of the Maryland Laser, Skin and Vein Institute, said that contaminated sclerosants can result in discoloration of the skin at the site of injection.

Talk to your vein doctors for help with varicose veins removal. Vein experts should determine first whether their patients would benefit from varicose veins removal with sclerotherapy. In particular, it is important to target underlying veins that may be at the root of the problem before treating the surface-lying veins that the patient can see. Typically ultrasound is used to locate inner veins as well as to check the ones that are bulging and causing pain. Dr. Robert Min, Radiologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said that treating underlying varicose veins could prevent the condition from recurring. Dr. Min treats underlying varicose veins using endovenous radiofrequency and laser treatments.

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