Sweat gland removal surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that can treat excessive sweating. While generally well-reviewed, this surgery does have some side effects to be aware of.
Sweat gland removal surgery is a surgical treatment for hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis is the medical name for the condition that causes excessive sweating. Sweat is an important bodily function that helps maintain your body temperature, but people who have hyperhidrosis sweat when the body does not need cooling. Sweat gland removal surgery can help people with hyperhidrosis that isn’t responding to other treatments.
There are a few different methods for performing this procedure. Most are minimally invasive and are performed by a plastic surgeon. In some cases, small incisions are made, and sweat glands are removed from the underarms in a procedure similar to liposuction. In other cases, small incisions are made, and the nerves that activate the sweat glands are cut, causing them to lose function. Additionally, options include laser or microwave energy treatment and endoscopic surgery.
A doctor can help you decide which option is best for you. Today we’ll look at some of the general pros and cons of sweat gland removal surgery as well as some FAQs.
Sweat gland removal surgery can have dramatic results. Without sweat glands, excessive sweating ceases. People generally see an improvement almost immediately. The results of sweat gland removal surgery are nearly always permanent.
In addition to this immediate relief, you may also save money that you spent on prescription deodorants and other treatments for excessive sweating.
While this option is usually the last one to be tried, it is considered a minimally invasive surgery and should not require extended hospitalization.
There are risks associated with sweat gland removal surgery. Some risks, such as infection, soreness, and bruises, are similar to those of most other surgical procedures. Other risks are specific to sweat gland removal surgery.
Common temporary side effects of sweat gland removal surgery include:
- infection at the surgical site
- bruising at the surgical site
- pain at the surgical site
Rare side effects of sweat gland removal surgery include:
- underarm scarring
- loss of feeling under the arm
- nerve damage
- heat intolerance
- low blood pressure
- a condition called compensatory sweating which causes excessive sweating on the back, stomach, and legs
Almost everyone who has sweat gland removal surgery experiences some degree of compensatory sweating. However, in most patients, this effect is mild and very tolerable. The side effect is only severe in a small percentage of people who have this surgery.
Another, more invasive option, involves the surgeon removing the sweat glands and hair-bearing skin of the armpit as well. This drastically reduces the ability to produce sweat in the armpit, but will likely require a longer healing time.
Sweat gland removal surgery is a medical treatment for hyperhidrosis. Most insurance companies, including Medicare, may cover the cost of surgery. However, you will generally need to have tried less invasive options first, and you will likely need documentation from your doctor stating that these options didn’t work for you. Additionally, your condition might need to meet certain qualifications for the severity of the length of time since the first diagnosis.
It’s always a good idea to call your insurance company and check their specific requirements. If your insurance company doesn’t cover this surgery, or if you don’t have insurance, sweat gland removal surgery costs normally start at about $8,000. Your location, the facility you choose, and the specifics of your case can all influence your cost.
Sweat gland removal surgery is a minimally invasive procedure. You’ll have some pain and discomfort for about a week after surgery. You’ll be advised not to lift or raise anything above shoulder height during this time.
You can typically return to work, school, and any other standard activities after about a week. However, your individual timeline might be longer or shorter. Your doctor will let you know the speed that is safest for you.
Surgery is one option for severe cases of hyperhidrosis. There are a range of other options that can help people control sweating. For many people, surgery isn’t necessary.
- prescription antiperspirant: Prescription-strength antiperspirants are a common first treatment for hyperhidrosis. They can stop excessive sweating.
- prescription underarm wipes: These wipes can help control sweating and odor.
- an iontophoresis treatment: An iontophoresis machine treats sweat glands by using an electric current. It can be helpful for people who experience excessive sweating on their hands and feet. This treatment is done at home as often as your dermatologist recommends.
- Botox injections: Small amounts of Botox injected under the arms can block nerves and stop excessive sweating.
- oral medications: There are oral medications that can temporarily stop your body from sweating. These medications can have unpleasant side effects and aren’t for everyone.
- MiraDry. MiraDry is a new treatment approved by the FDA that destroys underarm sweat glands with electromagnetic energy. This treatment isn’t typically covered by insurance companies.
You can learn more about sweat gland removal surgery by reading these commonly asked questions below.
What happens if sweat glands are removed?
Sweat gland removal surgery is a permanent way to stop excessive sweating in the underarms, hands, upper thighs, and other areas. It’s important to note that this procedure doesn’t remove every sweat gland in your body. Although we often think of sweat glands as only being located in a few areas, this isn’t true.
The human body has up to 4 million sweat glands. There are more sweat glands in some body areas than others, and there are a large number of sweat glands concentrated in the armpits. However, removing the sweat glands from your underarms doesn’t leave your body without sweat glands. You’ll still have sweat glands, but the excessive sweating will cease.
Can sweat glands be replaced?
No, sweat glands cannot be replaced. Sweat gland removal surgery is permanent. Once sweat glands have been removed, there is no way to restore or replace them.
Do sweat glands grow back?
No. Sweat glands do not grow back on their own. There is medical research being done to look into the possibility of using stem cells to help regrow sweat cells in the future, but this research is in the very early stages. We don’t currently know when, or if, this will be an option.
Can groin sweat glands be removed?
Yes. Hyperhidrosis of the groin can be treated the same way as hyperhidrosis of the underarms. A minimally invasive procedure can be done to remove these sweat glands and treat the conditions.
Is removing sweat glands dangerous?
There are some risks to sweat gland removal surgery, as with any surgery. However, it’s not dangerous to live without these sweat glands. There are still other sweat glands in the body. The glands that are removed during surgery are the ones responsible for the excessive sweating.
Your body still has methods of producing sweat. This is why compensatory sweating happens after sweat gland removal surgery. It’s also why this procedure is safe and approved as a medical treatment.
Hyperhidrosis can be a frustrating condition to manage. Sweat gland removal surgery can be a permanent solution for people who haven’t been helped by other treatments.
The procedure is minimally invasive and has very little downtime. Most people return to work in a week or less. Although side effects can occur, they are generally mild and resolve quickly. More serious side effects, such as nerve damage, heat intolerance, or extreme compensatory sweating, are rare.
Most people who have sweat gland removal surgery report being satisfied with their results.