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Polidocanol is used in the treatment of small uncomplicated spider veins and varicose veins in the legs (smaller than 3 mm in diameter). This treatment is not a cure for varicose veins and the effects of therapy are not permanent.

How it works

Polidocanol belongs to a class of medication called sclerosing agents. It locally damages the endothelium of blood vessels, leading to platelets aggregation, thereby leading to formation of blood clots as well as scar tissue which in turn reduces the lumen of some enlarged veins. 

Common side effects

Numbness, Tingling sensation, Pain, Warm sensation, Dizziness, Headache, Increased hair growth, Injection site bruise, Injection site itching


Expert advice

  • This injection is directly administered into the varicose veins and number of injection given will depend on the number of varicose veins. While you are being injected you will be constantly monitored for any adverse effects.
  • You should wear a compression bandage or stocking soon after the injection, continuously for 2 to 3 days and for 2 to 3 weeks during the daytime, to prevent clots formation. 
  • You should also walk for 15-20 min post therapy along with wearing the compression bandage.
  • Avoid heavy or strenuous exercise for 2-3 days post therapy. Long distance travel while sitting should also be avoided (in a car or airplane).
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight for 2-3 days post treatment.
  • Take precautions as advised by your doctor before application of ice or heating pads on the treated leg.

Frequently asked questions


 Q. Does pilocarpine increase or decrease heart rate?
Pilocarpine can decrease the heart rate. However, it does not increase the heart rate.
Q. Does pilocarpine cause weight gain/increase blood pressure?
Pilocarpine increases blood pressure. However, no clinically relevant effect on weight has been reported with the use of pilocarpine.
Q. Does pilocarpine help dry eyes?
Yes, pilocarpine helps dry eyes by increasing the production of tears.
Q. Does pilocarpine work?
Pilocarpine acts by increasing the activity of chemical acetylcholine, thereby, increasing the secretion from various glands including salivary glands and tear glands. Due to its cholinergic effect, it also constricts the pupil of the eye and improves the outflow of aqueous humor (fluid in within the eye) contributing to reduction in eyeball pressure.
Q. Does pilocarpine cause blurred vision/hair loss?
Yes, pilocarpine causes blurred vision. But it does not cause hair loss.
Q. How does pilocarpine affect heart rate?
Pilocarpine decreases heart rate by increasing the effect of a chemical called as acetylcholine.
Q. How does pilocarpine lower intraocular pressure?
Pilocarpine lowers intraocular pressure by constricting the ciliary muscle of the eyes, therefore increasing the outflow of fluid (aqueous humor) from posterior part of the eye.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)