There are several superficial vein thrombosis treatment options. A person’s symptoms and overall health can influence the type of treatment they receive.

Superficial vein thrombosis (SVT), also known as superficial thrombophlebitis, refers to inflammation and clotting in the veins close to the surface of the body. SVT typically occurs in the limbs but may present in the chest area.

Catheterization or IV infusions are a common cause of SVT in the arms. When the condition occurs in the legs, it often accompanies varicose veins.

A 2020 article notes that in most cases, warm compresses, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are enough to relieve the symptoms.

In more severe cases, SVT may require anticoagulant medications. Surgery may be an option in very rare cases.

This article examines the treatment options available for SVT.

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Doctors typically classify SVT as a benign condition. However, it has associations with venous thromboembolic disorders, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

About 6–36% of people with SVT may develop DVT. PE can occur with SVT at a rate of around 2–13%.

The goal of treatment is to provide symptom relief and help prevent SVT from progressing into DVT.

NSAIDs are medications that help relieve inflammation, fever, and pain. A person can take NSAIDs to help relieve the inflammation and pain associated with SVT.

NSAIDs are available by prescription and over the counter. They can be oral or topical. Examples include ibuprofen and aspirin.


Certain people should not use NSAIDs, such as those with kidney issues or bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

Risks include adverse effects on the following systems:

  • stomach
  • liver
  • heart and blood vessels
  • kidneys
  • blood

NSAIDs also have several potential side effects, including:

Applying a warm washcloth or heating pad to the affected area several times a day can help ease SVT symptoms such as pain and swelling.

If a person chooses to apply a warm compress, they should ensure that it is not hot enough to irritate or burn the skin.

Doctors may recommend compression if swelling accompanies SVT. A person can create compression using bandages or elastic stockings.

Experts believe that compression stockings work by increasing blood circulation because of the pressure they exert on the leg. This pressure, combined with movement, promotes blood return to the heart and helps prevent stagnation in the veins.

However, severe compression may impair blood flow toward the affected arm or leg. A person can talk with a healthcare professional about safe compression methods.

Elevation reduces inflammation and blood pressure and improves blood flow. It involves raising the affected body part above heart level.

In addition to reducing inflammation in the affected limb, elevating for SVT also reduces the risk of clots because it helps prevent blood from pooling.

Anticoagulant, or anticlotting, medication can help prevent an SVT clot from breaking off and traveling to the lungs.

A 2018 study found that anticoagulant medications reduced the risk of existing SVT clot progression, SVT recurrence, and new venous thromboembolism development. Researchers found this benefit even at doses below therapeutic levels.

Anticoagulants can come as a pill or injection. A doctor may recommend several weeks of this treatment if:

  • a person has severe symptoms
  • the clot is extensive
  • the clot is within inches of the deep vein system


Anticoagulant medication has side effects relating to bleeding, such as:

However, the importance of preventing SVT complications, such as DVT or PE, outweighs the medication’s side effects.

The primary risk from this medication is unmanaged bleeding. A person who takes anticoagulants should contact a doctor immediately if they have:

  • sustained a blow to the head
  • been involved in an accident
  • have any type of bleeding that does not stop

A person experiencing SVT may want information from a doctor. Examples of questions to ask include:

  • What are the signs of a blood clot?
  • When is hospitalization necessary?
  • What are the recommended home treatments?
  • What caused this condition?
  • What can help prevent future instances of SVT?

Below are some frequently asked questions about SVT.

Can surgery treat SVT?

In very rare cases, surgery may be an option. However, experts do not yet know the best time to perform the surgery and the benefits of performing surgery.

A person may wish to discuss the potential benefits and risks of surgery for SVT with a healthcare professional.

Is it safe for a person with SVT to exercise?

A doctor can help a person decide how to exercise safely based on their individual health status. Generally, light exercises such as walking or swimming may be beneficial.

A person taking anticoagulant medication should avoid high risk sports that may increase the risk of an injury resulting in bleeding.

How long does it take for SVT to go away?

If SVT does not progress and there are no complicating factors, it can resolve after several weeks.

Is SVT serious?

Many instances of SVT are not serious. However, some cases can be dangerous if they progress to conditions such as DVT or PE.

Sometimes, SVT becomes migratory and resolves then recurs. This can be an indication of a malignancy, such as pancreatic cancer or adenocarcinoma.

SVT treatment aims to help prevent the condition from worsening.

At-home treatments include NSAIDs, compression, and the application of a warm compress. Doctors can also prescribe anticoagulation medication.

Mild cases of SVT may resolve on their own in a couple of weeks. Since SVT can progress to conditions such as DVT or PE, it is important to contact a doctor for an assessment.