Dear Dr. Reisfeld:

I wanted to thank you for making a new me and giving me confidence I didn’t think was possible.

I had my surgery just three months ago (January 2003). Because my age at the time of surgery was 53, I was concerned that I might have a more difficult time healing afterwards. I am happy to tell you that I believe my healing was quicker and easier than my 33-year old son who had the same surgery the previous November. The day of the surgery, I took a short nap upon returning to my hotel but that afternoon my daughter and I walked around and did some window shopping before going out for a nice dinner. I awoke from surgery with dry hands and have never had sweaty hands since then even though I was warned I probably would experience some sweating the third day after surgery. I never needed the prescribed pain pills but did take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and take care of any discomfort. I did have a numb area on my breastbone for a while but that has almost completely disappeared. I was also concerned about being able to wear a bra afterwards without irritation to the incision sites but that was not an issue. It was great that you used a dissolving suture so I was not required to have them removed once I returned home. I was really impressed with the fact that you personally called me three separate times after surgery to check my progress.

When you and I met the morning of my surgery, we discussed whether to address only the sweaty hands or to also deal with the blushing. You advised that the compensatory sweating seemed to be worse when the blushing was addressed so I decided that it was not a major consideration for me. However, I wanted to let you know that miraculously (to me, anyway) my blushing has also greatly abated even though it was not directly addressed. I can now hold a conversation with people I don’t know and not look like I’m dying of embarrassment. My sweating wasn’t just on my hands but that is what most people saw. However, when my hands would sweat the rest of me from head to toe did, too. The hands seemed to be the trigger. I had to be careful what I wore so that sweat marks did not show and forget sandals with no socks! For the most part, that has all changed. The rest of my body will occasionally still sweat lightly but not as heavily or as often as before – only when I get too warm. I do sweat when I work out but it’s really no more than anyone else and certainly not my hands. I have noticed the gustatory sweating when eating sour or spicy foods but for me it seems to be more or a tingling feeling on my scalp as opposed to a “real” sweat.

I am now much more confident at work because I don’t have the constant fear someone will notice or touch my sweating, red hands. I no longer “melt” paperwork when I hold it. I can use machinery without leaving puddles on it. I used to avoid shaking hands at all costs, and once or twice even made excuses to miss work if I was being presented an award or would step out of the office for an imaginary appointment if I knew visitors would be coming in. I have resisted promotions because it meant I would have to travel, meet new people and shake hands. That is now no longer the case and I look forward to the possibility of promoting to a higher paying position.

My husband never thought my problem was anything to worry about, however, he was totally supportive of my surgery, even if concerned. He now sees a difference in my confidence level because I don’t hesitate to hold hands, go dancing, give him a back rub or just snuggle up to watch TV. He says he really notices a difference in my demeanor.

Socially, this has been an amazing reformation. At one time I was really involved with photography but it was difficult working with film and prints when my hands were sweaty so I’d pretty much given that up. I have always wanted to work with stained glass but because the glass shards stuck to my hands I simply couldn’t. I used to get frustrated with any handwork because my sweaty hands made a mess of whatever I was working on. Playing card games was something else I avoided. I just have to smile whenever I think about doing any of these things because now I can participate in life as much as anyone else.

An interesting side note, this surgery seems to have made my body’s thermostat work better. Before the surgery, I always felt too hot or too cold. Now I am as comfortable as others around me. In fact, for the first time I can wear sweaters, woolens or silk to the office and be completely comfortable.

This has been such a great experience – I just wish I had known about it a long time ago. My son has an 11-year old daughter with the same condition. We both believe that when she is old enough to express feelings of embarrassment about this condition, she will have the opportunity to have the surgery, too. And we just happen to know an excellent doctor who can perform the surgery.

I cannot thank you enough for the change you have made in my life!

If anyone would like to contact me, I would be happy to answer questions.


Marcia Etheridge