Local News

Surgical Procedure May Help People With Hyperhidrosis

Posted February 28, 2005 2:20 a.m. EST

— Even in cold weather, some people cannot stop sweating. A soggy wet handshake is a clue to a condition called hyperhidrosis. It can be especially difficult for children, but an improved surgical option makes it possible for more children to get help.

Piano lessons used to be a problem for 11-year-old Emily Ward. Between songs, she had to wipe off the keys. She left a sweaty mark on school work.

"Her papers would be rippled because they were so wet," said Kim Ward, Emily's mother.

Classmates at her Christian school did not tease Emily, but they avoided her at prayer time.

"They would say, 'Eww, you've got sweaty hands, and they wouldn't want to hold my hand,'" Emily said.

"The older she got, the more self-conscious she got about the whole thing," Kim Ward said.

Emily was diagnosed with hyperhidrosis.

"The nerves that supply the sweat glands in the hands are out of balance," thoracic surgeon Dr. Lewis Stocks said.

Stocks said treatment options used to be limited to botox injections that were painful and temporary or surgery that involves collapsing the lungs.

"I felt glad when they came out with a new surgery because I really didn't want to go and collapse my lungs," Emily said.

Now through two small punctures under each armpit, the surgeon reaches a thin nerve stretched across the third or fourth rib.

"That nerve is easily identifiable and just by applying a little bit of heat to it, the nerve separates," Stocks said.

As a result of the procedure, the excessive sweating stops immediately.

"Now when I get nervous, they get a tiny bit clammy, but that's all. It's just like a normal person's hands," Emily said.

The procedure also reduces sweat in the under arms and feet.