Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating. While hyperhidrosis is not fatal or contagious, it is still an extremely serious condition for those who suffer from it. People with hyperhidrosis often sweat excessively in their armpits or the palms of their hands. As a result, a person with hyperhidrosis may be too embarrassed to raise their arms or shake someone’s hand. This sort of inhibition is noticeable, awkward, and can interfere with normal, day-to-day functioning.
Excessive sweating tends to occur during emotionally stressful times. In a sad irony, the dread and embarrassment people with excessive sweating feel is emotionally stressful, making things worse.
Even though 3% of all people experience hyperhidrosis, the condition is rarely discussed. As a result, many people suffer in silence. But they don’t have to. Hyperhidrosis can be treated.
Most people think of Botox as an injection to remove lines and wrinkles. While botulinum toxin is certainly used to treat facial creases, it has other important medical uses. In fact, Botox and other botulinum toxins have been used successfully to treat hyperhidrosis.
Botulinum toxin works by interfering with the action of nerve cells. As it happens, hyperhidrosis is caused by overactive nerve cell activity on sweat glands. Just as botulinum toxin interferes with nerves that cause the facial muscles to wrinkle, botulinum toxin can interfere the nerves that control sweat glands. The result: Patients can finally be free of excessive sweating.
The treatment of hyperhidrosis with botulinum toxin is very similar to the way it is used to treat cosmetic issues. Your plastic surgeon will use a very thin needle to inject small amounts of Botox into the affected area. The main difference, however, is the preparation of the treatment site. Your surgeon will want to precisely identify the areas of skin that sweat excessively. A solution is applied to the area that changes color when exposed to sweat. Photographs may be taken to help plan the treatment. Areas of excessive wetness are marked with a special ink marker.
Once the target areas are identified, a spray anesthetic may be used to numb the treatment area. Injections are placed evenly across the treatment site at marked locations. One armpit usually requires 10 to 20 small injections, spaced about a half an inch apart. Patients may notice relief of excessive sweating within 2 to 4 days, and the beneficial effects may last for 6 to 9 months.
Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are different forms of botulinum toxin. They all work on nerve cells in the same way. Botox is the only botulinum toxin that has been approved by the FDA to treat excessive sweating. Moreover, Botox has only been approved to treat hyperhidrosis that occurs in the armpits. That being said, a skilled plastic surgeon can use these agents to treat excessive sweating in the armpits and on the palms of the hands.
Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin are quite safe when they are administered by someone who is qualified to use the treatment. However, since the active ingredient is a powerful toxin, it should only be administered by a skilled medical professional. At a minimum, the person performing the Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin treatment should be a licensed physician, someone who fully understands the risks of the treatment. For best cosmetic results, however, patients should choose a facial plastic surgeon. A facial plastic surgeon not only has the medical training to safely administer the injections, but he/she has also thoroughly studied anatomy and aesthetics. A facial plastic surgeon is able to administer treatment safely and effectively.