Severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating) is among these and reportedly affects about 3% of the world’s population.
The accuracy of this figure is debatable, says Dr Anushka Reddy, owner of Medi-Sculpt Aesthetic Solutions, President of the South African Association of Cosmetic Doctors (SAACD) and a medical doctor who has been treating hyperhidrosis with Botox for seven years.
She explains, “More than being just embarrassing, hyperhidrosis can be socially debilitating. The excessive sweating is coupled with unpleasant body odour, which can lead to cripplingly low self-esteem and even social isolation. Sufferers are often too embarrassed to address the problem and so many cases go unreported and untreated.”
Treatments, efficacy and outcomes
There is no cure for severe axillary hyperhidrosis, which appears to be genetic, and while other treatment options exist, none are as effective as Botox.
Dr Reddy adds, “Other treatments include endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) surgery and anticholinergic drugs. That said, ETS surgery is not especially effective for the treatment of underarm sweating, while the drugs have side-effects, require the patient’s commitment to an ongoing drug-taking regimen and aren’t always effective.
“Botox treatment however is proven effective, is less invasive than surgery and unlike drugs, only has to be administered once every six months (although some patients report relief for up to a year and longer).
Also, patients start seeing results just 10 days after a treatment, while side-effects are limited to temporary bruising at the site – and in rare instances, flu-like symptoms and respiratory compromise.”
Dr Reddy’s claim regarding the efficacy of Botox treatment is borne out by the FDA’s trial results for the use of Botox in hyperhidrosis. These were significant, with 81% of patients reporting a more than 50% reduction in underarm sweating – thus leading to FDA approval in 2004.
How it works
When administering treatment, Dr Reddy injects Botox every centimetre or so, throughout the armpit. When administered, the toxin works by blocking the nerves that stimulate sweating, resulting in the production of less sweat.
She also advises patients to wear loose-fitting cotton clothing, avoid spicy or heavily salted food, maintain meticulous personal hygiene and use anti-perspirants containing 10% to 20% aluminum chloride hexahydrate.