Excessive perspiration (hyperhidrosis)
Perspiration has a function that is vital to our organism. It helps to regulate the body temperature, cooling not only the skin, but also the interior of the body. Approximately 1 – 2% of the people in Germany suffer from the disease known as hyperhidrosis, in which the body produces an excessive and uncontrollable amount of sweat regardless of whether it is warm or cold or what time of the day or year it is. Hyperhidrosis can occur either as a general phenomenon over the whole body, or locally.
As far as the person affected is concerned, what constitutes excessive perspiration is a question of subjective assessment and the personal psychological stress caused. In scientific terms, the production of 100 mg of sweat in a patient’s armpit within a period of five minutes is defined as hyperhidrosis.
Certain factors influence our sweat production, and they can help us to stop excessive perspiration. For example, eating very hot or very spicy food, wearing clothing made of synthetic materials, or simply being seriously overweight can all contribute to excessive perspiration. In general, our body adapts to the situation at hand, never producing too much sweat, but always just as much as is necessary.
However, increased sweat production can have various causes, so medical clarification is necessary.
60% of localised hyperhidrosis occurs in the palms of the hands (sweaty palms) or the soles of the feet, 40% in the armpits, and 10% on the head (mainly the forehead), the remainder being rare forms occurring in other parts of the body.
A distinction is made between primary – i.e. congenital – hyperhidrosis and its secondary form, which is the consequence of disease. A decision is made on the basis of the anamnesis. Typical symptoms of the primary form are:
- skin irritation
- sweat patches
- body odour
- sweaty hands and feet
Treatment options in cases of excessive perspiration are:
- chemical denervation with botulinal toxin A
- subcutaneous axillary removal of the sweat glands
- endoscopic transthoracic sympathectomy (ETS)
In the armpits, hyperhidrosis can be eliminated by removal of the sweat glands by suction. The effectiveness can decline after a few years, as the ends of some of the nerves find their way back to the residues of the glands and the latter begin to secrete sweat again. The success rate is over 70%.
DURATION OF OPERATION: approx. 90 minutes
ANAESTHETIC: tumescent anaesthetic / semi-conscious sedation / general anaesthetic
AFTER-TREATMENT: compression bandages
PRESENTABILITY, RETURN TO WORK: after approx. 3 days
SPORT: after approx. 3 weeks
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