Sufferers of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) seeking relief have found a solution in injections of BOTOX (botulinum toxin, also referred to as onabotulinumtoxinA). While sweating is an important function in regulating body temperature, 1% of the population deals with severe sweating at times when they are neither hot nor exercising. Treatments exist for this embarrassing condition. One of the most effective is BOTOX injections.
BOTOX injections stop perspiration in the same manner that the injections work to relax wrinkles or stop headaches. The proteins of the botulinum block the signals sent to the nerves. Without the neurotransmitter signaling the sweat glands to produce perspiration, sweat doesn’t occur. Patients who suffered from hyperhidrosis before this treatment was available could take a pill but often experienced all-over effects, such as dry mouth or eyes. The botox injections are given to specific glands, eliminating this issue. The use of Botox for this purpose was approved by the FDA in 2004.
The areas of the body that respond the best to the procedure are the underarms and feet. Patients may then resume their daily activities but should avoid intense exercise for a few hours. There are also people who elect to use the injections before a formal occasion like a prom or wedding, to keep sweat from ruining their formal wear or wet armpits from staining clothes in photographs, especially during the spring and summer months.
Injections can be used to treat craniofacial hyperhidrosis (sweating of the face or scalp) where a powerful anti perspirant would only irritate the delicate skin of these areas. The injection technique can cause asymmetry of the forehead so potential patients should research to find an experienced practitioner.
Excessive sweating on the palms or (palmar hyperhidrosis) can also be mitigated with the BOTOX injections. Since some of these areas are extremely sensitive, pain relief should be used. Ice, nerve blockers or local anesthetic can be applied to make the process more comfortable.
Treatment occurs in a pain management doctor’s office and takes from 10 to 30 minutes. Often patients find that it’s more uncomfortable than painful, some report a prickling sensation while others barely feel that. The most common side effect is soreness and possible swelling in the treated areas afterwards. Other more rare side effects can occur. Individuals should ask their doctor about any risks.
Patients often experience noticeable results a few weeks after the treatment. Some glands under the arms might be missed, requiring another trip to the office. Most patients are satisfied and report a dramatic difference in sweat production within 4 weeks, improving their social and physical well-being. The Botox treatments may stop the hyperhidrosis for up to 8 months. The visits need to be repeated every few months to remain effective.
The procedure is considered elective by most health plans and can run up to $2,000. Prices vary from doctor to doctor. Some insurance providers will cover at least part of the cost if a prescription has been written by a primary care doctor.