Your closet is full of black shirts. Your friends regularly invite you to spin class before brunch on the weekends, but you never go. And you always find excuses to wear a sweater or jacket in the office, especially when you have to give presentations or lead meetings.
Maybe you just like dark, layered clothing and aren’t much of a morning person. But more likely, these situations arise because you’re avoiding scenarios in which your underarm sweat might cause you embarrassment. Excessive underarm sweat — a condition called hyperhidrosis — leaves a full three percent of the Canadian population (that’s nearly one million people) feeling self-conscious every day. If you’re constantly worried about your sweat stains or body odor, and you’re feeling increasingly frustrated by ineffective treatment options, you might be interested in learning more about miraDry.
miraDry: A Direct, Non-Invasive Solution
For a long time, people with hyperhidrosis have had few available methods to control their sweating. Prescription-strength antiperspirants can only get you so far, and they aren’t a viable solution for people with skin allergies or sensitivities. Some people find relief from BOTOX injections, but this is only a temporary fix and the cost of regular treatments can quickly add up. There’s also surgical intervention — which is permanent, but is also costly and comes with several potential risks and restrictions. The distinct lack of a simple, effective and long-lasting solution has left thousands of people to live with their underarm sweat, just trying to do their best to keep it at bay. But in the process of hiding their hyperhidrosis, they may be limiting their confidence and happiness.
In 2012, however, Health Canada approved miraDry, a new non-invasive device that uses microwave technology to treat and eliminate excessive underarm sweat. miraDry is the middle ground that hyperhidrosis patients have been waiting for: it tackles the root of the sweating problem rather than masking the symptoms like deodorant, and it doesn’t involve intensive surgical intervention like a sweat gland removal operation. With just one or two quick treatments and no significant downtime, miraDry patients experience an average 83% reduction in underarm sweat and body odor — and initial studies show the results could last a lifetime.
Safely Eliminating Overactive Sweat Glands
Hyperhidrosis is the result of overactive sweat glands in the underarm area. In order to reduce underarm sweat, a treatment needs to target these glands in some way. This could mean blocking the pores that sweat comes through, or it could mean inhibiting the production of sweat at the gland itself. In the case of surgical intervention, it could involve removing the sweat glands altogether. The last tactic is the most effective since it eliminates the source of sweat production completely — and once the sweat glands are gone, they don’t grow back.
Like surgery, miraDry solves the hyperhidrosis problem by permanently eliminating overactive sweat glands. But unlike surgery, it doesn’t involve anesthesia, incisions, scarring, recovery time or any of the associated risks. Instead, miraDry uses a proprietary microwave technology called miraWave to gently apply thermal energy to your sweat glands. The energy causes your sweat glands to shut down. After the treatment, your body registers the dead or dormant glands as damaged tissue and eliminates them via natural waste breakdown and removal processes.
The microwaves are emitted via a handheld tool that’s programmed to target your sweat patterns. Since the miraWave technology is calibrated to avoid damaging your skin or surrounding tissues, your miraDry provider simply places the tool over your underarm and allows the thermal energy to do the rest. You’ll be given a mild local numbing agent to keep you comfortable during treatment, and you may experience some swelling, sensitivity, itching, discoloration or tingling around your underarms for a few weeks. You should avoid vigorous exercise for a few days, but you can resume most normal activities right away at your own comfort level. You’ll be able to feel a difference in your sweat production right away, with further improvements as the side effects subside. Most miraDry patients experience their best results after two treatments spaced a few months apart.
Long-Lasting — Even Permanent — Results
The sweat glands treated with miraDry don’t regenerate once they’re eliminated. The remaining glands may begin producing slightly more sweat to make up for the difference, but the fewer number of glands overall means you’ll likely never experience the same level of underarm sweat again. Of course, miraDry has not been in use for very long, so researchers are hesitant to call the effects “permanent” just yet — but initial follow-up studies show that patients don’t have any signs of hyperhidrosis returning, even several years after their treatments. They don’t require follow-up treatments to maintain results, either.
What’s more, the studies show that patients don’t suffer any ill effects. One very common concern that our clients have about miraDry is the misconception that eliminating sweat glands in the underarms will cause your body to sweat more in other places. While it does seem logical to think that you will need to sweat from somewhere, you in fact only produce about two percent of your body’s total sweat from your underarms. Losing these glands won’t interfere with your other bodily functions or make you overheat during exercise or on warm days. In addition, you’ll still experience some underarm sweat; but it will be manageable by regular means such as over-the-counter antiperspirants or natural deodorants.
Since miraDry is a non-invasive treatment, it can be appropriate for a wide range of patients of all ages, genders, lifestyles and body types. If you’re interested in miraDry to treat your excessive underarm sweat, the Banff Plastic Surgery team invites you to visit us at our offices in Banff, Alberta, for an in-person consultation. Our expert surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay can evaluate your concerns and needs and help you determine if miraDry is a safe and effective option for you. Call us today to learn more at 403-762-2055.