Earlier this year, the FDA approved a product for treating broken capillaries and varicose veins called Asclera. Dermatologists have begun to send out press releases announcing that they now offer this “non-invasive” way of treating unsightly veins. So what exactly is Acslera, does it work and is it safe?

Asclera is a form of sclerotherapy – a long-established (believe it or not, they were performing it in the 1800s) procedure for tackling broken veins. It works by injecting (which, by the way, counts as invasive in my book) a solution into the veins that makes them immediately shrink, and then dissolve over a period of weeks as the body naturally absorbs the treated vein.

The substance that is injected in an Asclera treatment is polidocanol, an irritant that damages the cell lining of the vein, which are then replaced by new tissue. Polidocanol is basically dodecyl alcohol (or dodecanol) is a mild skin irritant. It has about half the toxicity of ethanol.

Asclera can be used on the face or legs. For larger (eg bigger varicose) veins, a micro-foam is injected – usually under the guidance of ultrasound.

According to various studies, the success rate is in the region of 70-90%. In general, spider veins respond in three to six weeks, and larger veins respond in three to four months. If the veins respond to the treatment, they will not reappear. However, new veins may appear at the same rate as before. The most common complication is hyperpigmentation, although this generally fades over time.