By Bernard I Raskin, M.D.
By now everyone has heard of the cosmetic benefits of Botox® for treating wrinkles. Now there is another great use for this product. Botox® is also used for treating a condition called hyperhidrosis.
Hyperhidrosis is the over production of sweat typically on the palms, feet, or axilla (underarms). The human body produces sweat to regulate body temperature, and a certain amount of sweat is normal. People diagnosed with hyperhidrosis sweat in excess of that required to cool the body.
Botox® treatment helps control hyperhidrosis by temporarily blocking the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands.
Your dermatologist can diagnose excessive sweating that is not being effectively managed with topical agents. Be prepared to tell your dermatologist about your medical history, family history, and when you first noticed your excessive underarm sweating. You may be asked to answer a self-assessment questionnaire regarding the extent to which excessive underarm sweating affects your daily activities. Once a diagnosis has been made, your dermatologist will discuss the appropriate treatment options with you.
The procedure itself takes approximately 30 minutes. The provider will ask the patient which areas bother them to determine how far beyond the hair bearing area to inject. The injections are scattered approximately every 2 square centimeters to cover the entire area of the axillae. It is also possible to perform an iodine starch test prior to injections to ascertain which areas need to be injected.
The iodine starch solution is applied to the affected area and then covered with starch. The areas that produce sweat will turn black, telling the physician which areas to inject.
You should notice a significant reduction in underarm sweating within 4 weeks of your first treatment. If you are still sweating, there is a possibility that some sweat glands may have been missed, and you may continue to experience some sweating from the untreated areas. If you do not see a significant reduction in sweating, you should contact your healthcare provider and request a follow-up consultation.
Typically patients treated with Botox® for hypohydrosis see improvement in under arm sweating for up to 6 months. It is not a cure; your symptoms will return gradually, and you will know when the time is right for another treatment. Your healthcare provider will recommend a treatment strategy to ensure that you receive the best possible results.