These days, it is possible to almost cease to sweat under the arms. This means you don't have to go to the clinic every few months to get Botox, or take medication. Once you are treated, the results are permanent. You can freely lift your arms, openly hug or spin a special someone on the dance floor without having to be self-conscious about giving them a sneak peak of a wet armpit.
What treatment options are permanent?
Earlier we used antiperspirants, medication, Botox or iontophoresis to effectively reduce excessive sweat, but the results are not permanent. Their effect fades over time if you don't continue the treatment or re-inject once in a while. Now as technology continues to advance, we have a few choices that offer permanent results.
One option is to use microwave energy to destroy thousands of sweat glands. This energy penetrates to the dermal-fat interface where sweat glands reside. Focused ultrasound energy or radio frequency therapy can be used to target overactive sweat glands and stop excessive sweating.
This focused energy generates heat and results in thermolysis of the glands, so they are no longer functional.
In addition to reducing sweat volume, it also kills apocrine glands, which cause odour and damages hair follicles.
Are these treatments for everyone?
As smelly and unpleasant as it may be, sweat is a natural and healthy part of life, so unless it's excessive, there's really no need to get anything done. Only if you're suffering from hyperhidrosis _ or excessive sweat _ and it is posing a problem to your social life, your relationships and perhaps even to your emotional health, then you may wish to consider the treatment options.
How much sweat is too much?
The amount of sweat considered normal is quite variable and depends on the demands of the body. Some people may sweat very little, while others could be perspiring up to several litres a day, based on what they're doing. It's not easy to quantify, but most people know if and when they are sweating too much. One telltale clue that sweating may be abnormal is perspiring excessively from one area of your body only, but again it's possible to have excessive sweating all over. So if you're excessively perspiring from the armpit, the introduction of this technology is probably the best news you've heard in a while.
What is expected from the treatment?
These FDA-cleared, non-invasive procedures permanently eliminate underarm sweat glands, and you are likely to experience up to 80% less armpit sweat. In most cases, two sessions are enough for a full treatment and results can be seen immediately. You should be able to return to normal activity or work right away, and can resume exercise within several days.
Are there any side effects?
Localised discomfort or swelling is normal, and usually clears within a few weeks. Some patients may experience temporary numbness and tingling in the arm after treatment, but this, too, gradually disappears.
Is there any other advice?
Like with any other treatment, always consult your doctor before going ahead with it. Understand the treatment well, how it will work on your body, and make sure you're in certified and experienced hands.
For those who do not have axillary hyperhidrosis, but just wish to reduce sweat and particularly body odour, making a few changes in your diet may be sufficient. Reduce your intake of garlic, onion, caffeine and alcohol. Instead, drink more water to keep yourself hydrated, so your body temperature is naturally maintained, and try to consume more fruits and vegetables, olive oil, calcium, and a vitamin-B rich diet.
Dr Nantapat Supannachart is an American Board-certified dermatologist and laser surgeon.