Severe Underarm Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

Many Americans have a medical condition named axillary hyperhidrosis, better known to you as severe underarm sweating. Severe underarm sweating is a medical condition that inolves overactive sweat glands. Sweat is your body’s temperature regulator. In axillary hyperhidrosis, sweating significantly exceeds the body’s normal requirements for cooling. As you probably know, people with this condition do a lot to cope:

  • Change clothes frequently
  • Put absorbent materials under clothing
  • Avoid certain fabrics and styles of clothes
  • Seek medical attention and treatment

While people with severe underarm sweating may choose many different antiperspirants, in some instances those products do not work well enough to control the sweating.

What is the cause of Hyperhidrosis?

Although neurologic, metabolic, and other systemic diseases can sometimes cause excessive sweating, most causes occur in people who are otherwise healthy. Heat and emotions may trigger hyperhidrosis in some, but many who suffer from hyperhidrosis sweat nearly all the time, regardless of their mood or the weather. Hyperhidrosis affects both males and females and can start at any age. Effective treatments are now available to help those with hyperhidrosis.

When antiperspirants or other topical treatments fail to control the symptoms of your severe underarm sweating, you may be a candidate for Botox® treatment. Botox® (botulinumtoxin A) is approved by the FDA to treat the symptoms of severe underarm sweating when antiperspirants fail. One treatment takes about ten to fifteen minutes and some patients state it reduced sweating for over 6 months.

How does it work?

Botox® temporarily blocks the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the underarm sweat glands. When the sweat glands don’t receive chemical signals, the severe sweating stops. Botox® injections are expected to temporarily stop the production of excessive sweat in the treated areas only. Sweat continues to be produced elsewhere.

The drawbacks to Botox® treatment is that on average it needs to be repeated every six to nine months and also the high cost. It usually requires 100 units of Botox® to treat.

There is a newer method of surgery to reduce excess underarm sweating. The glands can be partially removed from just underneath the skin through a combination of liposuction and excision. Not all the glands can safely be removed. This is done by a cannula and through an incision in the armpit (very similar to the incision used for transaxillary placement of breast implants). Risks include some numbness in the inner, upper arm, and healing problems of the skin due to the tissue being thinned out. For that reason smoking must be avoided. Recovery is about one to two weeks and the amount of sweating is decreased 75%. Cost is approximately $2200. Iowa Plastic Surgery has been offering this method of surgical treatment and Botox® for excessive sweating for several years.

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