Hyperhidrosis is a condition in which someone experiences excessive and unpredictable sweating. Affecting about 1-2% of the population, hyperhidrosis is usually localized to one or more parts of the body, including the underarms, face, scalp, hands and feet. Anxiety and a lack of self-esteem are common side effects for those suffering from profuse, unpredictable sweating. The disorder can stain individuals’ clothes, make social and professional interactions awkward and embarrassing, and can even make it difficult to grip a pen or a car steering wheel.
La Peer Health Systems is home to world renowned thoracic surgeons who are experienced in treating hyperhidrosis with a cutting edge, minimally invasive procedure.
Causes of Excessive Sweating
Hyperhidrosis is the result of overactive sweat glands which produce too much sweat. Individuals with the disorder have the same amount of sweat glands as everyone else, but their sympathetic nerve response is much higher. Excessive sweating comes from overactive nerves within the chest cavity, and can be brought on by normal stimuli, or nothing at all.
Types of Hyperhidrosis
There are two main types of hyperhidrosis: primary and secondary.
- Primary hyperhidrosis is inherited through genetics. If one of your family members has the disorder, your chances of having it increase. Hyperhidrosis typically starts showing symptoms in childhood and worsens with age.
- Secondary hyperhidrosis is caused by a non-genetic condition or disorder. Certain medications and even alcoholism can cause hyperhidrosis, in addition to these conditions: Neurologic syndromes, thyrotoxicosis, diabetes mellitus, gout, menopause, and spinal cord injury.
What Areas Does Hyperhidrosis Surgery Treat?
Hyperhidrosis can affect various parts of the body, including the face, feet, groin and underarms. The most common form of hyperhidrosis is sweaty palms. Hyperhidrosis can affect one or several parts of the body, that can each be treated with hyperhidrosis surgery.
Palmar Hyperhidrosis (Sweaty Palms)
Excessive sweating of the palms is the most common type of hyperhidrosis. It is characterized by profuse sweating in the palms, even to the point of dripping. The minimally invasive procedure called thoracoscopic sympathectomy is effective and safe for treating sweaty palms with a 90% success rate.
Axillary Hyperhidrosis (Underarms)
Hyperhidrosis of the underarms causes excessive sweating in the armpits and affect about one percent of the population. Patients looking to treat their sweaty underarms might be good candidates for thoracoscopic sympathectomy surgery if they also experience profuse sweating in another part of the body.
Plantar Hyperhidrosis (Feet)
Plantar hyperhidrosis causes excessive sweating of the feet, and can lead to chronic foot odor and fungal infections. Topical medications and thoracoscopic sympathectomy surgery can help treat sweaty feet.
Facial Hyperhidrosis (Face)
Profuse sweating on the head is extremely embarrassing and can cause blushing of the face. Facial hyperhidrosis can be treated with non-surgical treatments like medication and Botox, as well as thoracoscopic sympathectomy surgery in severe cases. Facial hyperhidrosis surgery may cause compensatory sweating, which is sweating in another part of the body, most commonly the abdomen and lower limbs. Additional medications may be prescribed to help treat the compensatory sweating.
Hyperhidrosis can affect the groin area for some patients. It can be very uncomfortable and can even cause fungal infections since these areas of the body tend to be moister than others and take longer to dry out. Minimally invasive thoracoscopic sympathectomy surgery can help treat hyperhidrosis of the groin.
Candidates for Hyperhidrosis Surgery
Hyperhidrosis surgery is an effective option for treating excessive sweating for those who are negatively affected by their disorder. It’s also an excellent solution for patients who have tried medications and Botox, but still experience excessive sweating. The thoracoscopic sympathectomy procedure is most effective for those with hyperhidrosis of the hands, or hands and feet, but our surgeons will look at your condition to determine the treatment that is best for you. It is a permanent procedure that is most effective for moderate to severe sweating.
Patients who are obese or who have certain medical conditions may not be candidates for the surgery.
Surgical Options for Primary Focal Hyperhidrosis
The Department of Thoracic Surgery offers comprehensive management of hyperhidrosis. Whether your excessive sweating occurs in the hands, feet, armpits, face, or multiple regions of the body, our physicians are highly trained in the most advanced and effective treatment. If you’ve tried all available pharmaceutical and topical options for treating your primary focal hyperhidrosis with no improvements, it is time to consider your surgical options for resolving your hyperhidrosis condition. La Peer Surgery Center is experienced in helping patients resolve their hyperhidrosis with proven surgical options.
- Excision – Excision involves the removal of underarm sweat glands that are malfunctioning. This procedure is done under local anesthesia and is generally an outpatient procedure.
- Curettage – This procedure scrapes out malfunctioning and problematic sweat glands. This is also an outpatient procedure, performed under local anesthesia.
- Liposuction – This procedure is similar to that used to remove excess fat from the body. Damaged and malfunctioning sweat glands are liquefied and then sucked out of the underarms. Liposuction is generally an inpatient procedure.
- Thoracic Sympathectomy – Thoracic Sympathectomy treats hyperhidrosis by blocking a specific set of nerves in the chest cavity that cause sweating. This procedure mostly used for patients with severe hyperhidrosis who haven’t seen results with other types of hyperhidrosis treatment. Advancements have made this treatment suitable for most patients with hyperhidrosis, although it is typically best for those suffering from sweaty hands or feet, or both. It is a minimally invasive and highly effective permanent treatment. Thoracic sympathectomy is generally an outpatient procedure.
Thoracoscopic sympathectomy is a safe and well-established minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. The surgery involves disrupting a very specific set of nerves in the chest that are responsible for excessive sweating. Hyperhidrosis surgery (thoracoscopic sympathectomy) is a permanent solution and is the most effective treatment available to individuals with moderate to severe sweating.
Thoracoscopic Sympathectomy Hyperhidrosis Surgery
The most effective solution for treating hyperhidrosis is with thoracoscopic sympathectomy surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed under general anesthesia.
Thoracic surgeons begin the procedure by making two small incisions on the sides of the chest, and then slightly insufflate the chest cavity with CO2 gas. A fiber optic camera is inserted into an incision to guide the surgeon with live video that is projected onto a monitor in the operating room. With the video guidance and small tools, the surgeons cut the sympathetic nerves that are responsible for the excessive sweating, between the third or fourth rib. Next, the surgeons remove the CO2 and tools and close the incisions.
The procedure is painless for patients, who are under general anesthesia, and result in only a couple small incisions for minimal scarring and recovery time.
What to Expect After Hyperhidrosis Surgery
Thoracoscopic sympathectomy surgery is a quick procedure that allows the patient to return home the same day. There may be some pain around the incisions, however, the minimally invasive approach our surgeons take helps to greatly reduce discomfort post surgery. Patients may be able to return to regular physical activities and work in as little as one week, depending on the type of work and how the patient is feeling. Intense physical exercise like weightlifting, jogging and bicycle riding may need to be postponed for 3-4 weeks. Most patients experience an immediate reduction in their excessive sweating after the thoracoscopic sympathectomy.
One possible side effect that can be common with hyperhidrosis surgery is compensatory sweating, which is an increase in sweating in other parts of the body not previously affected by the disorder. Common areas that are affected are the abdomen, back and legs. These areas of the body are not as noticeable as the face and hands and can be dealt with much easier. While compensatory sweating is a common side effect of the procedure, most patients have found that it is not as severe as their previous hyperhidrosis and that they are very satisfied with the procedure results.
Find Hyperhidrosis Treatment in Los Angeles
Contact La Peer Health Systems to learn more about the thoracoscopic sympathectomy procedure and to schedule a consultation with one of our world renowned thoracic surgeons Los Angeles. We’re more than happy to answer any questions and to help you determine if this minimally invasive outpatient procedure is right for you. Call 855-360-9119 or use our online contact form.
Read more information about treatment options for hyperhidrosis on our website, Hyperhidrosis Center of Excellence.