The underarms are the most common site where excessive sweating is problematic. The palms of the hands, soles of the feet and forehead can also be treated, although due to the sensitivity of the hands and feet, we generally only treat underarms or foreheads.
The glands which produce sweat are supplied by the same type of nerve ending that supplies muscles in the face which cause wrinkles. Botox is a protein produced by the clostridium botulinum bacteria, and is the most well known product for treating wrinkles in the world, although there are other similar products that we also use. It is extremely effective when used for sweating.
Using a tiny needle, small quantities of protein are injected into the areas producing excessive sweat e.g. the underarms. The product prevents the nerve signal reaching the sweat gland and therefore stops the gland producing sweat. Several injections are spread out across the area so that as many sweat glands as possible are blocked.
Before injecting, we usually perform a sweat test – this involves painting the area to be treated with an iodine- based mixture which changes colour when it comes into contact with sweat. This identifies the exact area that needs treatment, making the procedure more effective.
Millions of people worldwide have had anti-wrinkle injections with the same product used for hyperhidrosis. It has been used extensively to treat sweating as well so its safety is not in doubt.
Treatment is not recommended in pregnant or breast-feeding women, and those with muscle-weakening conditions such as myasthenia gravis. Most other people are suitable for treatment.
Underarm injections may be uncomfortable but rarely painful.
As with any injection there may be side effects but they are uncommon. They include redness, swelling tenderness, and bruising at the injection sites. Very occasionally the injections may not work.