Health Team

Surgery can keep your hands from sweating

Posted September 8, 2008 3:05 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2008 10:34 p.m. EDT

Sweaty palms are, for some, a chronic condition. But a minimally invasive surgery can turn off the sweat instantly – although there are risks involved.

Amanda Fields, 21, has suffered from hyperhidrosis, a condition that made her hands constantly drip with sweat.

"When I was younger growing up, I had social anxiety. I didn't like new situations, meeting new people," Fields said.

Prescription antiperspirants did not work, but Fields found a surgical option.

Hyperhidrosis is caused by a malfunction in a nerve near the spine. Cut the nerve, and the sweating stops.

In the past, people shied away from the surgery because it required collapsing the lungs and making a large incision to open the chest cavity.

However, smaller instruments are allowing surgeons to do the procedure more safely and faster.

Through a small incision in the armpit, a tiny camera on the end of a laparoscope guides the surgeon. Once at the nerve, a small blade cuts it – stopping the sweat on the hands.

The procedure can also reduce perspiration under the arms and from the feet.

"Most patients go back to work after two or three days," said Dr. David Sekons, with the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

However, the surgery does come with some risks. Some patients start sweating on the back and legs – some so severely that they regret having the surgery.

Fields said she has not had any side effects – except help getting over her social anxiety.

"It's weird to look down, and they're not sweating," Fields said. "Now my confidence has grown so much, I can go and meet new people. I'm a happier person."