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Cosmetic / Plastic Surgery Message Board

Cosmetic / Plastic Surgery Board Index

I have been having sclero for about 10 years, currently "stabilized" at a couple sessions every year or two at about $350 each. I have been through it all, and therefore can state that my bottom line is that it is a great option which often turns out very well. But there are problems too. Just be aware that for most afflicted with increasing visible veins, the buggers will always reappear throughout most of our lives. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t done right, and really can’t be avoided (watch out if any doc says it can, unless you have maybe one spider vein area). And, treatment itself can cause the blood to jump to and cause new problem areas. Think about it; the blood has to go somewhere when shut out of its former route, and soon that new area may break down too. And the needles themselves can CAUSE spider veins (if it pricks too roughly, they should probably be changing needles more often during your session).

Some poor souls like me have to commit to chasing everything around forever! (Especially irritating when you're ready to start spending your beauty budget on other procedures!) But go full force and nail most of the problems in the beginning, and then you can just keep up with it as soon as there are recurrences. I have no symptoms or actual varicosities, just thin, translucent skin through which lots is visible: darkish spider vein patches, and also small to medium sized blue/green veins. Only one ever bulged, just a bit. Some docs are even skilled enough to treat veins so tiny they appear more like bruises, further decreasing the “need” for laser techniques to be touted. Sclero is vastly better than laser for leg veins. If one feels they must consider that at all, they should be sure to research it with open eyes in reliable, unbiased sources. No matter how commonly it’s being offered these days, I have *always* been told by highly credentialed doctors/sources that for legs, it is still nearly useless in most cases. Including doctors in whose own offices it is offered! And as small as the areas are that are covered in each session, it could REALLY add up, perhaps with you being told all along -- as you get further and further into debt without seeing improvement -- that "the results will show up later after healing."

Sclero is THE way to go. Pain? Bruising? Piece of cake. But boy, am I used to it. I just tune it out. Saline solutions smart more during injections than sotradecyl (sp? Brand name for a generic used in U.S.); aren't as powerful/effective for veins much larger than spider veins; but actually cause less scarring when something goes wrong.

Now for some sad ethics problems that are indeed out there. We’re talking a $12,000 or more fiasco in my case. The up side to me telling you my story is that I bet if you laughingly/casually mentioned reading this post at a consultation anywhere, if indeed they were a greedy/questionable treatment center, they'd be sure to keep you off their sucker list. Seriously. They’ll just settle for your lackluster typical payment amount and pick someone else to stick it to.

Regarding ultrasound-guided sclero injections in particular, I had an extremely bad ongoing experience -- lasted many years -- with a chain center mentioned in another post at this site. That person had a good experience at a branch elsewhere, and I am *sure* like any specialty there are ethical and unethical practitioners. But especially if your issues are purely cosmetic and you have no symptoms or big bulging “worms,” BE CAREFUL about blindly accepting advice that you NEED the technique of ultrasound and injections simultaneously (especially if repetition is insisted on, perhaps repeatedly, after the first gamble). YES it can work wonderfully for large bulging veins. In those cases it probably is the only option short of surgery. But some abuse (overuse) it, claiming falsely that even for small/medium veins, these deep injections MUST be done first, which isn't true for everyone all the time or intermittently forever.

They may initially say "At least you'll probably only have to invest in the ultrasound-guided procedure once," but as with me they may later end up saying sorry, you're an unfortunate case that needs it every year. To the tune of thousands each time; and before they’ll agree to even treat a new spider vein. It feels like emotional blackmail; you want that new little spider patch gone so badly before your upcoming vacation that you could cry, but they cross their arms and insist on ultra and thousands of dollars first. (As if you could be endangered otherwise. Please! Even consenting to compose and sign a paper saying “I know I screwed myself and so the results won’t last” wouldn’t get them to budge for me and stick a needle in a teensy one-inch pink vein. Why? I had proven to them they could wear me down and win every time.) With the ultrasound process, most of the veins they claim they need to inject you can't see, so you have no way of verifying that something has indeed gone awry in there once again ("reflux"). And FYI -- when the hazard of chemical burn happens during the deep injections, it's a NASTY scar. They gave me a big one – looks like three pocked cigarette burns in a row. Note that before I said a single word to express how I was going to handle the incident, the doctor said, “You could try suing us, but it hasn’t worked yet. You signed off on the risks.”

Anyway, to calm you about the expense of the ultrasound technique, they may tell you they “guarantee” that the alleged “deep vein reflux” issue will not recur or will be treated free if it does; IF you follow their “protocol,” which actually obligates you to come every so often over year(s). And at these follow up visits, you must succumb to whatever they claim you need at whatever expense, including unlimited additional ultrasound. THEN after they’ve fed on you that way for awhile, they actually may treat future reflux free (deep vein only – never regular sclero or touch ups to visible veins); but more likely, “conveniently” none will ever be found again. This isn’t proof that they “cured” you. They can easily just say there is no more reflux so they don’t have to treat you for free. They know you’re not in any danger if they skip it, and also know it often makes no difference in the visible results either way when used for alleged “deep issues” that are supposedly connected to the minor recurrent veins you’re annoyed by. During my final bout there, when doing regular sclero injections, they even drew out my "investment" by insisting they needed to start above my hips and work down at their leisure to the area on my calf that I actually came for. Note that this could theoretically go on forever; you can spare a phenomenal if not limitless number of veins.

Since apparently it’s sometimes true to different extents for different degrees of vein problems that it CAN be helpful to work from inside out and top down, it’s even harder to know the truth in your own case. But it is absolutely accurate that plenty of the time, regular sclero injections directly into any veins except the large, bulging ones (without the thousands of dollars added by ultrasound) can produce a result that is cosmetically equal and just as lasting. And more than money is at risk. Remember that burn scarring, if it occurs, will be infinitely less extensive without the ultrasound technique (and these kind of scars can’t be fixed at any price. Believe me, I shopped it.)

If you’re in doubt, given your individual appearance, about which “level” you need (or if you honestly need additional ultra), it certainly can’t hurt to ask for the less invasive and MUCH less expensive regular sclero route first. I’d question the motives of any doctor who wouldn’t try it. Another road block to truth is that the chain I'm referring to is known to liberally sue – and has effectively scared quiet -- other doctors and sources who speak freely of the existence of some of their questionable practices.

I had long felt like a fool, but did need to keep up with my naturally chronic condition, so I persevered. Then I became close friends with a high level insider at the chain, who ended up quitting due to her conscience. Vein centers and ultrasound guiding can be a HUGE racquet. I had spent about $12,000 of my own money over six years -- never even getting them to go after many of the areas I myself chose to come in for in the first place -- before I faced and was told that for sure I had been and was known as a sucker there. My name on the appointment list was like a dinner bell, especially being a “self-pay,” which it turns out helps offset the “nuisance” of limits on insurance reimbursement amounts received from other patients’ carriers. For years now, I go to a different doctor who shoots what I point at, and surprise surprise. NO acceleration in reappearance of new veins, as warned and insisted by the other center. And overall the result is infinitely better, and less invasive overall, as I get to pick EXACTLY what I want banished instead of having much or most of what I point at avoided to draw out the process and number of sessions.

Sorry -- don't mean to be a downer, and despite all this I should clarify that I am NOT AT ALL against sclero. But as I've been through and now researched a lot about all the possible downsides, the least I can do is hope I help someone else. If this could happen to me – you would be amazed if you could see how average the extent of my cosmetic problem is in reality -- surely it could happen to many others. But I probably have been only an unfortunate, worst-case scenario. I shouldn't have been afraid to question, especially after I had become furious inside with suspicion but still wanted help and treatment. You’ll be given much more respect and be open to less exploitation if you exhibit that you are a wise consumer from moment one. Saving my questions for “later,” when I felt more comfortable or got up the nerve, is how I ended up never saying anything at all. It makes me want to cry when I hear how seamlessly others' experiences have been. I could have many more thousands of dollars in the bank; no bizarre looking, pocked scar on my calf; and a lot more self-respect.

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