How do I know I suffer from hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is defined as sweating beyond your bodies needs. It is a subjective feeling but if a person has dripping sweat from the hands, armpits or feet he or she is suffering from hyperhidrosis. A regular case of hyperhidrosis is usually not associated with any other illnesses which is contrary to some circulating ideas that hyperhidrosis is associated with nervousness, anxiety, thyroid problems, etc.
An exact diagnosis should be made between the patient and treating physicians after all other possibilities are excluded.
Where should I start with regard to treatment?
Obviously a discussion between the patient and a physician (Family Doctor / Dermatologist) should be the first step. This should be followed with conservative measures and understanding of the different options. The surgical approach should be attempted only after conservative efforts are tried.
What age is suitable for surgical treatment?
Generally speaking 14 is the youngest age where surgical treatment will be considered. It is about the age where social and functional problems are beginning to be experienced.
What is the recovery period for each surgery?
Typically the endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is performed on an outpatient basis. The operation itself usually takes about 1 hour and after chest x-rays are taken the patients can be on their way home or to their hotel. The recovery is quick and very well tolerated by the patients.
Does obesity play a role in hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis is the result of a genetic trait. It can affect overweight patients as well as patients with normal weight. To go into more specifics obese people do have a bigger body surface area which contains more sweat glands. Those people tend to sweat more in general terms. On the other hand patients who are obese pose a difficult technical problem to the surgeon performing the surgery (ETS - Hands or ELS - Feet). The nerves are surrounded by excessive amounts of fatty tissue which makes isolation and identification of the nerve more difficult. In order to get a better idea about your unique situation please discuss with the surgeon.
The endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy (ELS) initially required a one night stay at the hospital but currently can be done on an outpatient basis. The pain in this particular operation is described as less than the one experienced by patients during ETS.
A return to normal daily life can be accomplished in both procedures in a matter of days not weeks.
With regard to sub-dermal laser ablation the return to normal life is pretty much quick and without too many restrictions or soft tissue trauma. This is accomplished because of the precise and non traumatic action of the laser energy.
Can the ETS (hands) and ELS (feet) surgeries be done at the same time?
The simple answer is no. It is unknown about the magnitude of the physiological impact that both surgeries can affect the body if done at the same time. Attempts were done to do one side ETS and one side ELS but the experience gained was not a favorable one. As for now a patient can have ETS done first and a few months later ELS can follow. Both procedures have high success rates and are typically done on an outpatient basis.
Are sympathectomy and sympathotomy different?
No, these are two medical definitions which basically speak to the same thing. In sympathectomy the function of the sympathetic chain segment responsible for the overproduction of sweat is being eliminated with excision of that segment. In sympathotomy that function is being eliminated by the application of clamps.
Does alcohol, marijuana or recreational drugs have an effect on hyperhidrosis?
It is a known fact that many patients state that usage of alcohol, marijuana and other recreational substances reduce their palmar hyperhidrosis (sweaty palms). These are true statements that basically describe the relaxing effect of those items on the patients. By doing so their sympathetic level activity goes down and as a secondary effect their hyperhidrosis is reduced. This effect is a temporary one and in order to get a long-term solution it will force the patients to use those items on a regular basis which will make normal life activity somewhat more difficult. At the same time some patients are making statements that they were treated by mental health professionals with different relaxing medications in order to try to reduce their excessive hand sweating. Here we are facing the same situation where long-term usage will have negative effects on the patients. Increased dosages for the patients will make the conduction of normal life activities somewhat difficult.
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