Excessive underarm sweat brings inconveniences from permanent pit stains to overspending on antiperspirants, not to mention wardrobe limitations and even a toll on your self-confidence. For about 3 percent of Canadians, excessive sweating reaches a point where it is considered a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is particularly characterized by constant sweating, even when the body does not need cooling. Sweat may soak through clothing, cause clammy hands or feet or result in rashes or fungal infections. Though it’s often possible to manage the symptoms of hyperhidrosis with topical treatments or medication, these don’t work for everyone and usually require time-consuming maintenance. If you’ve exhausted all the usual options and you still struggle to stay dry, it might be time to talk to your doctor or dermatologist and ask them about options like miraDry, Botox or surgery for hyperhidrosis.
Surgery for Excessive Sweating
Previously all we had to offer was surgery, but the procedure was invasive, performed under a general anaesthetic, and not always effective. Either the sweat glands were partially removed or scraped away leaving a significant scar and only limited improvement. Most providers have now switched to either Botox or miraDry for more effective control.
Botox for Excessive Sweating
You might be wondering why your doctor would recommend an anti-aging treatment for your underarm sweat, but Botox isn’t just for facial wrinkles. It has been FDA-approved to treat excessive underarm sweat since 2004 and is also used for a range of other medical concerns unrelated to signs of aging. This simple treatment is so useful because of its active ingredient, a naturally-occurring protein called botulinum toxin. When highly controlled doses of botulinum toxin are injected into precise areas of the body, the protein blocks the release of a substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is typically responsible for helping your nerves communicate with your muscles. In treating wrinkles, for example, Botox prevents acetylcholine from telling the muscles in your face to contract. The muscles then relax, which allows the complexion to appear smoother.
Acetylcholine also functions to stimulate certain nerves, and in the underarms, it sets off reactions that produce sweat. When Botox is injected in the area, those nerves lie dormant while the botulinum toxin is active. The body does naturally metabolize botulinum toxin, though, and the effects typically wear off after three to six months. You’ll need repeated treatments to keep your sweat from returning; there are no risks associated with receiving Botox injections on a regular basis.
What is miraDry?
Like Botox, miraDry is a completely non-surgical treatment for hyperhidrosis. But rather than focusing on the processes that stimulate sweat production, miraDry goes straight to the source and targets overactive sweat glands in the underarms. During a miraDry treatment, your provider uses a handheld device to send waves of controlled electromagnetic energy into the tissues of your underarms. The heat from the electromagnetic waves reaches your sweat glands and causes them to break down, all while the miraDry tool cools your skin and the surrounding tissues to prevent unwanted harm or discomfort. With the number of sweat glands in your underarm drastically reduced, you’ll experience less sweating in your underarms. Studies also show that miraDry is effective in fighting underarm odor and in reducing underarm hair growth.
While miraDry is a relatively new treatment — only about seven years — so far follow-up studies indicate that the treatment is permanent in that the eliminated sweat glands don’t grow back. It’s common to experience some soreness, temporary numbness and swelling in the area after miraDry, and most providers recommend avoiding strenuous exercise for a few weeks. But miraDry is non-invasive and does not require general anesthesia or narcotics, so you’ll be able to resume most normal activities immediately after your treatment. Plus, the long-lasting results often make this brief recovery period worthwhile.
Pros and Cons of Botox and miraDry
Both of these treatments can be highly effective in alleviating the symptoms of hyperhidrosis, even for patients who have been frustrated time and again by other solutions. The right treatment for you will depend on your needs, your health and your lifestyle — your doctor, dermatologist or plastic surgeon can help you determine which might be a better fit. When you compare the two treatments, there are a few main pros and cons to consider for each.
Botox is a great middle ground between daily treatments and a permanent commitment like miraDry. It does not come with the recovery time of miraDry, and it is longer-lasting than the effects of an antiperspirant or an oral medication. However, it Botox is not a permanent solution and can become costly if you choose to continue treatments over time. You will also need to be prepared to have regular visits with your Botox provider scheduled every few months as the effects wear off.
miraDry is often best suited for patients who struggle with sweating and are ready to permanently eliminate approximately 80% of their underarm sweat. miraDry is also a good choice for those whose excessive sweating is accompanied by an unwanted odor. However, patients must be willing to accept temporary numbness and swelling as well as the brief time spent away from exercise. Additionally, many patients do require two treatments for maximum results. Each session is spaced about three months apart, so it could take up to three – six months before you can enjoy full effects of your miraDry treatments.
Talk To A miraDry and Botox Provider
The best way to know if Botox or miraDry is right for your underarm sweat is to schedule a consultation with a board-certified health professional typically a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. During your in-person meeting, you can discuss your concerns, your goals, your budget and your lifestyle, all of which will influence your provider’s advice and final recommendation. For honest aesthetic advice and services like miraDry in the Banff, Alberta area, contact Banff Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation. Our team, including our expert surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay, is ready to help you find out more about your options for treating hyperhidrosis. Call us at 403-762-2055 to make your next appointment.