Non Surgical and Surgical Options for Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating)
Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating of the armpits and it can disrupt many lives. There are now several options for treatment. Dr. Sean Doherty, who is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in the Boston and Concord area, has several non-surgical and surgical options for the many patients who suffer from this.
Axillary Hyperhidrosis is also known as Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis. It is defined as focal, visible, excessive sweating in the armpits of at least six months duration plus at least two of the following six criteria:
- Impairment of daily activities
- Bilateral (both) sweating of armpits
- Occurring at least once a week
- Beginning before the age of 25
- Family history of Axillary Hyperhidrosis
- No sweating symptoms at night
At least 2.8% of the population suffers from Hyperhidrosis but only a small portion of patients ever talk to their doctors about it. Even fewer of these patients ever receive treatment. Most people do not know that there are multiple treatments, they are embarrassed about their symptoms or don’t know that this is an important issues that they CAN talk to a doctor about.
Axillary hyperhidrosis or excessive armpit sweating can cause physical discomfort from raw and irritated skin. It can result in social issues if patients are too embarrassed to wear certain clothes or attend social events where sweating may happen. Some patients also have occupational disruption and this problem can even affect career choices.
Hyperhidrosis can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. Dr. Doherty is very pleased with many options that he can speak to patients about. These treatments will sometimes create permanent results.
In a consultation, Dr. Doherty will speak to patients about their symptoms, their family history and how the problem affects their lives. One of the first steps is for Dr. Doherty to examine a patient and to likely perform a test that will measure the amount of sweat produced by the armpits. This is called the Starch Iodine Test and this is done easily in the office.
Next, Dr. Doherty will talk about the many non-surgical treatments. Initially, patients are told to place their anti-perspirant on at night. The antiperspirant takes its effect while you sleep. Patients may shower as normal in the morning. Some patients get relief from this. Other patients try an anti-perspirant called DRYSOL. This is an aluminum salt that helps plug sweat glands. This is applied at night once or twice a week. Many patients have good results from this treatment, though for some patients, it is very irritating to the skin.
Robinal is a medicine that is taken in pill form. It is an anti-cholinergic and can help suppress the sweat glands. This is a medicine that needs to be taken under the guidance of a physician. Some patients have resolution of their sweating symptoms but some may not.
If these non-invasive treatments do not work, Dr. Doherty will speak to patients about two other options. Neuromodulators (Botox and Dysport) are medicines that are injected into the skin of the armpits and have excellent results in reducing the function of the sweat glands and the irritating effects of sweating. These are injections are easy to do. The procedure is performed by Dr. Doherty in the office with little discomfort and little down-time. The effects of Botox or Dysport typically last 3-4 months. For patients who do not wish to have neuromodulator (Botox and Dysport) injections, Dr. Doherty provides a safe and effective surgical treatment. In the operating room, Dr. Doherty performs and Arthroscopic Axillary Gland Shaving Procedure. This surgical procedure is typically performed under anesthesia. Dr. Doherty utilizes small cannula sites around the hair bearing skin of the armpits to remove the sweat glands with suction device similar to liposuction.
Patients who have this procedure can expect some temporary pain and bruising of the armpits for a few days. They must decrease their activity for 4-5 days. Patients have small stitches that are in their skin for 7-14 days and these are removed in the office by Dr. Doherty.
Patients who are treated with the Arthroscopic Axillary Gland Shaving Procedure often report a significant decrease in their Axillary sweating and the effect of that sweat. Patients report they feel a difference as soon as they are healed from the surgical procedure.
Interested in learning more about the most popular Hyperhidrosis Treatments? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Doherty at his plastic surgery practices in downtown Boston (Newbury Street) or in Brookline, MA, by calling (617) 450-0070 or filling out the form on this page. Dr. Doherty can help you discover which treatment is right for your particular needs.