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Printed for the June July 2002 Issue page 98:
Title: Bugs, Sweat and Fears
“Makes me sweat
Q: I HAVE A REALLY EMBARRASSING PROBLEM: EXCESSIVE PERSPIRATION. MY DOCTOR SAYS SURGERY IS THE ONLY SOLUTION, BUT IS THERE ANOTHER OPTION?
A: You’ve got something called hyperhidrosis, or abnormal sweating. One percent of the general population has hyperhidrosis, which typically affects the scalp, face, armpits, trunk or feet. By far the most distressing area is the hands, because they’re used socially much more than any other part of the body. “Some of my patients’ hands literally drip perspiration,” says board-certified surgeon Rafael Reisfeld, M.D., F.A.C.S., of the Beverly Hills Center For Special Surgery. The symptoms usually start in childhood. Anyone can have hyperhidrosis, which is often genetic, but the condition may have a special impact on black folks. “Many of my African American male patients seem particularly troubled by this very embarrassing condition,” says Dr. Reisfeld.
You can try prescription strength antiperspirant such as Maxim (Unfortunately, effective remedies are elusive. Very little is known about alternative treatments for hyperhidrosis, says Eric Jones, N.D., a naturopathic physician at the Bastyr Center For Natural Health in Seattle. Dr. Reisfeld agrees. “I encourage my patients to try whatever treatments they can,” he says, adding that, “very few report success.”
The best news for many people with hyperhidrosis is that it’s not a 24-7 condition. “Some people find that anxiety triggers episodes,” admits Dr. Reisfeld. But the sweating stops during sleep and comes and goes during the day. The most effective treatment, however, is a surgical procedure called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. The doctor attaches a small clip to a chest nerve that regulates sweating. The clip blocks nerve messages, offering a permanent fix. It’s performed endoscopically through a tiny incision. Although only a handful of surgeons perform the procedure, which was developed and perfected over the past 10 to 12 years, it does work.
Most of Dr. Reisfeld’s patients can walk out of the office two hours after the surgery…”
June July Issue of Heart and Soul Magazine 2002 page 98
See our hyperhydrosis section to learn more about the condition and its treatments.