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Botox Treatment for Excessive Sweating

Wednesday, 18 February 2009 | Tags: , , ,

About 3% of the population suffers from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), in which their sweat glands are 4 to 5 times more active than the average person. While most of us know Botox is used to treat cosmetic issues like wrinkles, it can also help with hyperhidrosis. We find out more, and recruit a volunteer to put it to the test.

Treatment Summary

  • Botox is the purified form of the toxin botulinum (which causes botulism if ingested).

  • Botox treats hyperhidrosis of the underarms, palms of hands, and soles of feet by paralyzing the nerves that stimulate sweat glands. FDA studies found that it’s effective in 91% of patients.

  • Men and women equally can suffer from hyperhidrosis.

The Procedure

After an initial consultation, the whole procedure takes only about 15 minutes.

  • To determine dosage, most doctors do a starch-iodine test on the area. Iodine is applied and allowed to dry, then powdered starch is dusted on top. The area that requires treatment turns a purplish colour.

  • The perimeter of the area is marked, and injection points are marked about 1-inch apart within the area.

  • The whole area is numbed with a topical anesthetic cream.

  • Each underarm requires approximately 15-20 Botox injections with a very small needle.

  • The treatment requires a couple of days to start taking effect, and two weeks to be fully complete. The brain will still send out signals to start sweating so patients can feel “phantom” perspiration until the brain learns to make the adjustment.

Side Effects

  • Can include pain and discomfort at the injection points (though helped with the anesthetic cream).

  • Less common are: bleeding at the site, perceived sweating in other areas of the body, and flu-like symptoms

The Cost

About $1000 per session. (That’s the equivalent of 200 sticks of anti-perspirant!)

The Result

For many patients, the effects of the treatment last about 6 months. Our expert Dr. Alastair Carruthers says for some people, the effect can last up to a year or more.

TEST LAB NOTES

Our volunteer tester, Ryan, has a serious underarm perspiration problem, but he doesn’t suffer from body odour. The problem has affected his lifestyle and wardrobe since he’s found no way to control it. He’s always worried about embarrassing wetness, and he can’t wear light shirts or back packs. He usually wears a heavier jacket to cover wet spots.

Dr. Alastair Carruthers of the Carruthers – Vancouver Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, along with his wife Dr. Jean Carruthers, an opthamologist who was using Botox to treat eye spasms, pioneered the use of Botox for cosmetic applications. He treated Ryan’s underarms with Botox injections.

Overall Experience

Ryan had some pain from the injections during the treatment.

Results

Ryan was extremely happy with the results. He said that he wouldn’t have believed he could have such great results if someone just told him about it. Having the procedure done has boosted his self-confidence enormously. He is able to do everyday things (like take off his jacket) without worrying or doing an underarm check.

Does Botox for excessive sweating get the A&K Stamp of Approval?

Yes. Ryan says in the past he considered the treatment but the $1000 price tag held him back. Now that he’s had it done, he feels it was definitely worth it, and so do we.

 

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