Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating. It can affect any part of the body but most commonly affects the arm pits. Sweating arises when signals in the brain travel along nerves to the sweat glands in the skin stimulating the production and release of sweat. This happens as part of the body’s automatic response to stimuli and is an unconscious bodily function. While sweating is a normal bodily response to things such as an increase in temperature and emotions, this automatic process can go into overdrive leading to hyperhidrosis. Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, can be a troublesome problem for many and can limit an individual's social, professional and personal lives. There may be no obvious cause for your hyperhidrosis but there are treatments available to help reduce the effects of the condition.
Treatments that reduce sweating are called antiperspirants. These are different from deodorants which reduce odour by targeting the bacteria in sweat. Often, the two are combined into one product. Unfortunately, topical antiperspirants tend to only mask the problem by blocking pores. These are often ineffective and can be potentially harmful. Botulinum A toxin however, is proven to significantly reduce excessive and inappropriate sweating.
People with hyperhidrosis will often find that their closes are visibly wet with sweat. Other signs of hyperhidrosis are clammy hands that interfere with relationships and work. Hyperhidrosis effects people in different ways. For some people only certain areas of the body will be affected, most commonly the armpits. For others their hands are where the excessive sweating causes a problem. Body odour is not a direct result of hyperhidrosis as the glands affected are not those that produce the oily odour-causing sweat. Eccrine glands are a type of sweat gland in the skin and are water-producing sweat glands. Hyperhidrosis affects these eccrine glands as opposed to the oil producing apocrine glands.
Botox®, otherwise known as Botulinum Toxin, is most frequently used in anti-ageing treatments. The Botulinum toxin injection is a medical treatment that can be used to help relax muscles by targeting the nerves and is therefore often used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Botox® is also commonly used to treat migraines and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox®) is the specific bacterial toxin used in cosmetic treatments. It is a naturally occurring protein derived from the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. The amount of toxin used in treatments is minimal and extremely safe. The Botulinum acts on the nerve endings found in the muscles. By blocking these nerves the sweat glands are rendered temporarily inactive. The effects usually lasts from two to six months, although some patients may experience a reducing in sweating for up to a year.
On the day of your treatment one of our practitioners will guide you through the entire procedure and obtain your written consent. You will have a chance to discuss any questions you may have regarding the treatment. Firstly, the axillae (arm pits) are cleaned and a topical local anaesthetic cream is applied for one hour. Then the Botulinum A toxin muscle relaxant will be injected into the area through a very fine, specially designed Botulinum A toxin needle. Between 10 to 15 injections will be made into the arm pit. The needles used for the Botulinum A toxin treatments are specifically manufactured to minimise discomfort. The injections may be a little uncomfortable but most people are able to tolerate the slight discomfort.
The Botulinum A toxin treatment is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure. As a result there is little to no down time although, activities such as exercise should be avoided for at least 6 hours after the treatment. Most people find that the injections cause only mild discomfort. Immediately after the injection there may be mild swelling which usually subsides within 48 hours, and slight bruising is possible. The effects of the Botulinum A toxin usually last up to 6 months, although some patients may continue to see benefit for 12 months. The treatment can be repeated.
There is next to no down time, although activities like exercise should be avoided for at least 6 hours after the treatment. The area should be avoided for around 24 hours and we advise that you come in for a review with your practitioner 2 to 3 weeks following the treatment.
When administered by a trained medical professional, Botulinum A toxin injections are relatively safe. Despite being a toxin, the substance used in the Botulinum A toxin injections is a purified, safe strain called Botulinum toxin Type A. As with all treatments, there are some side effects associated with its use, but most of these are mild and temporary. Side effects of this treatment are extremely rare. The most common side effects are headache and injection reactions e.g. redness, swelling, irritation, rash, itching, numbness, pain, discomfort, stinging, bruising and bleeding. Normally these reactions are mild to moderate, reversible and occur in the first week after treatment. There is also a small possibility of slight drooping of the eyelid or visual problems when injected into the face near these areas. If any symptom lasts for more than one week or you are concerned about any symptoms you should report them to your practitioner as soon as possible. It's important to remember that that all medical procedures carry risks as well as benefits, and you need to discuss these with your doctor.
Botulinum A toxin injections should not be used in women who are pregnant or breast feeding. Botulinum A toxin injections are not recommended for anyone who has previously experienced an adverse/allergic reaction to the botulinum toxin type A or has a current skin infection in the arm pit area at the time of treatment.
For more information regarding the hyperhidrosis treatment, please contact us on 020 7467 3720.
Content by Dr Sunil Chopra and Rebecca Perris.