An Effective Laser Treatment for Axillary Hyperhidrosis (Excess Underarm Sweating)

Up to 3% of the population has hyperhidrosis.  Seems like a lot for something most people have never heard of.  Better known as excessive sweating, hyperhidrosis is typically just a more extreme form of underarm sweating.  There are other forms, such as palmar (hand) hyperhidrosis, and in extreme cases these may require surgical procedures to disrupt the autonomic nervous system source of the problem.

Excessive underarm sweating can affect anybody from time to time, not just those with a medical condition.  The anxiety of public speaking, or being in a dress on a hot day are two examples of when normal anti-perspirants might not be up to the task.  Notably, anti-perspirants are almost all made from aluminum salts, and up to 0.12% of the aluminum can be absorbed by the body.  (Deodorants usually do not contain these salts).  For a substance that has no known physiologic purpose and has been linked to medical problems such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, the use of aluminum salt anti-perspirants deserves some reconsideration.

There are a couple of other ways to treat underarm sweating worth considering that can reduce or eliminate the need for anti-perspirants.  Neuromodulators such as BOTOX™ is well-established for being very effective in significantly reducing underarm sweating, and unlike the typical 3-4 month BOTOX™ effect on facial lines, I have seen Botox for hyperhidrosis last 9 months or more.  As easy and effective as BOTOX™ is, I am amazed that it is not more popular for underarm sweating.  Ablating the sweat glands can be a more permanent solution, but traditional techniques involve surgically removing the sweat glands from the undersurface of the armpit skin, and are therefore painful and expensive with significant downtime.  We have a new way of ablating the glands with a minimally invasive technique that uses a laser under the skin to do the job.

Using a bi-directional laser, the Precision Tx™ (previously known as the Sidelaze 800™) can now be used to treat hyperhidrosis in Santa Barbara.  This is the same device that we use on the neck and face for minimally invasive tightening and rejuvenation. With a one hour procedure under local anesthesia, your excessive underarm sweating can be significantly reduced.

Some may say that interfering with the natural sweat production of the armpits can be harmful and reduces one of the body’s ways of thermoregulation and toxin elimination.  Only 2% of the body’s eccrine glands are in the armpit so these effects should be minimal however it is wise to consider all the pros and cons.  If you use anti-perspirants, there are natural alternatives that work for many people, but another way to avoid aluminum is to consider laser treatment.


– Dr. Douglas Mackenzie, Santa Barbara

Douglas J. Mackenzie, MD

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