Special Reports

A non-surgical treatment for excessive sweating

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Whether it's a first date, a job interview or giving the best man's speech at a wedding, underarm sweating is often associated with nerves.

But some people deal with this often embarrassing condition every day.

It is a diagnosable medical condition and, thanks to a new procedure, very treatable.

It's one of the more memorable and hilarious scenes from James Brook's 1987 love triangle comedy, "Broadcast News."

But for Alicia Shollenberger of Bethlehem, Pa. excessive underarm sweating was no laughing matter.

"It's definitely been something that's been a problem for years," she told Action News. "It's one of those things where you have to bring an extra shirt, you know, to anywhere you go."

Alicia said she has tried multiple over-the-counter products but nothing worked. And with summer just a few weeks away, she wanted something quick, effective and non-surgical.

Until now, surgery was one of the only truly effective long-term solutions. But it carries major risks, like scarring and infection.

"I think it's a substantial problem that's been neglected because the treatments have not been that great," said Dr. David Vasily of Lehigh Valley Dermatology.

But Dr. Vasily says Miradry, which was approved by the FDA last year, is the breakthrough patients have been waiting for.

"It's an engineering marvel, in my opinion," he said.

After numbing the underarm area, Doctors use a wand-like device to deliver electromagnetic energy to the underarm, deadening the sweat glands. At the same time, the skin and deep tissue are cooled to protect them.

There are no incisions involved. And since sweat glands do not grow back, patients only require 2 treatments about 3 months apart. Many patients see this as an advantage to Botox injections, which run $800 to $1200 a session and need to be performed every four to nine months.

"You don't feel anything during the procedure," said Alicia. "A slight sucking but that's it." Although sweating can cause cosmetic embarrassment, it is our body's way of cooling itself off. So if Miradry eliminates the underarm sweat glands, can that cause problems with the body's ability to prevent overheating?

Dr. Vasily says no.

"The sweat gland mass is only represented by maybe 3 to 5 percent of our body's total sweat glands," he said. "There's really no purpose for those glands except to cause trouble. Social trouble."

But according to the FDA, there were reports of some patients in Japan getting skin burns after being treated with a version of Miradry. Those machines were recalled and repaired.

Dr. Vasily said there were also some reports of temporary tingling in the fingers after treatment. However Amanda Hengstenberger recently had the procedure done and says she has had no problems. And she says she saw the results almost immediately.

"For the past week, no sweat, been dry, wearing colors to work, wearing my old shirts, white...love it," she said. "I don't have markings under my armpits. Great, I'm ready for the next treatment."

The treatments cost around $3000.

Right now Miradry only works on the underarm area, but Dr. Vasily believes engineering advances with the device will eventually allow it to be used on other parts of the body, like the hands and feet.

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