by Emma Chitty for Mind and Body Liftout of The West Australian
We all know how uncomfortable it can get on hot days when your body starts to sweat. For some people, this normal reaction to heat, nerves or excitement is an embarrassing, daily annoyance.
Hyperhidrosis, or excess sweating, can be a major social hurdle. To alleviate the problem, many plastic surgeons are now using wrinkle relaxer injections in the armpits.
“The wrinkle relaxer option is a fantastic treatment for this problem — it’s probably one of the best clinical uses of wrinkle relaxers you could imagine, ”Dr Timothy Cooper, plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Rodin Clinic, says.
“The feedback is very positive —clients report a major reduction in their sweating within days and it makes their life socially bearable.
”WHAT CAUSES HYPERHIDROSIS?
“Basically it’s overactive nerves supplying the sweat glands —you’re just born with those and, during puberty, they can become even more sensitised,” Dr Glenn Murray, medical director at Absolute Cosmetic, says.
“The sweat gland is covered in muscle that’s continually contracting and the more it contracts, the more sweat it makes and pushes out.
”WHAT’S INVOLVED IN THETREATMENT?
“It takes a lot of courage for people to come in and talk about this,” Dr Dennis Millard, director and lead clinician at Utopian Cosmetics, says. “Once they actually come in the door, they’re usually so sick of the problem that they just want it gone.”
For this reason, most clients are treated on the day they initially visit the surgeon. You can expect about 20 injections in each armpit, injected in a grid-like pattern around the sweat glands.
The treatment will take 15-30minutes and follow-up procedures are usually just a short check-in from the clinic to ensure symptom relief.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The wrinkle relaxer injections block the release of acetylcholine, which is what makes the sweat glands work.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARENEEDED?
The treatments usually last about six to nine months.
“Most of the clients I’ll see just get it done for the hotter months,” Dr Millard says. “Some people do have refractory sweating at all times though, so they do need to have it treated twice a year.
”WHAT ARE THE MAJOR BENEFITS?
“The benefits are primarily social— there’s no net health effect of not sweating under your arms other than hygiene,” Dr Millard says.
“A lot of it’s about confidence —people are very aware when they’re sweating under their arms a lot, so knowing they can go out and not have to worry is great for them.”
Dr Murray agrees. “The most common reason is embarrassment of the sweat showing through nerves during dates, interviews and meetings,” he says.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
The main alternative to wrinkle relaxers is a surgical sympathectomy— a procedure that divides the sympathetic nerves supplying the armpits with sweat.
“This is a final procedure but it carries risks,” Dr Cooper says.
Dr Murray says it is less common. “Non-surgical treatments are more popular over surgery —all surgery has its complications.”
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
This treatment may cost anywhere from $600-$1500 each time you get it done. It’s not likely you’ll get any of it covered by health insurance.