Cold sweats, hot sweats, sweaty palms… most of us experience sweating of some kind, whether it’s in hot weather, through nerves or when we’re poorly.
But for those who suffer from hyperhydrosis – the medical term for excessive sweating – life can be really awkward.
If it affects their underarms it’s particularly distressing, as even an affected area the size of a penny can create enough sweat to literally trickle continuously down their sides and into their clothes. Some people even need to take clean clothes to work each day to deal with the problem.
That’s an extreme example, but excess sweating is actually an incredibly common problem with one in five of the population suffering, usually in silence, because of the embarrassment factor.
Up to now there have been a few treatments available to tackle the problem, but none have offered a particularly feasible solution.
Botulinum toxin injected into the armpits offers medium-term relief and lasts several months, but it needs to be repeated indefinitely to keep the effects going in the long term.
The only way currently to permanently reduce sweating is an operation to open up the skin and cut the nerve which supplies the sweat glands. However, this is invasive and, as with any surgical procedure, not entirely without risks. There are other methods which involve cutting the skin and passing a Radio Frequency probe under the skin to destroy the sweat glands but this method is also quite invasive.
New hope for sufferers
So the launch of a new treatment to permanently reduce and even remove underarm sweating is bound to be in demand. This American system called Mira Dry has full FDA approval and follow-up figures of several years with no return to sweat production.
Following the first treatment session most people see a 50-60% reduction in their sweat production and for some this will be all the improvement they need. A second treatment, however, provides around a 90% reduction and this has been sustained in all the follow-up figures for over three years in America.
So how does it work?
The skin is anaesthetised with injections and then a handpiece is passed over the skin in a very specific pattern. Each area of skin is vacuumed up into the handpiece, where microwaves are then passed through the skin to heat up the sweat glands to the point of destruction. Once damaged, the glands cannot recover and so, because we don’t reproduce sweat glands, the effects are permanent.
There may be a few after effects such as swelling and heat in the skin which needs to be cooled for several hours post treatment, but there have been no serious side effects reported to date.
As with so many conditions, we are constantly making progress in the way they can be treated, and it is very heartening that this new treatment could make a massive difference to the lives of sufferers.