If embarrassing armpit stains and constant wetness on your body is your daily reality, there may be a non-surgical solution to deal with your excessive perspiration. The same goes for sweaty palms and feet that make simple tasks difficult – such as keeping grip on things, or wearing socks and shoes without forming fungal infections.
For about 3% of the Canadian population, the ability to treat excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) can be a major quality-of-life improvement. For others, it can be a way to remove just one more daily nuisance, as a lifestyle choice.
To find out if you qualify for sweating treatments, we encourage you to book an in-person consultation at our Surrey laser and skincare clinic. Our on-staff doctor will be able to assess your case. We can then let you know about treatment options that can work for you – whether or not they are prescription-based.
What is hyperhidrosis (i.e. chronic sweating)?
Hyperhidrosis is a condition of excessive sweat and perspiration, likely caused by overactive nerves. Medical authorities divide this condition into two of its root problems:
- A person’s genetics – called primary focal hyperhidrosis.
- A side-effect of medication, or a symptom of an underlying illness – called secondary generalized hyperhidrosis.
If your genetics are at play, your chronic sweating may have begun early in life – even as a child or pre-teen. The common areas of perspiration will be your armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), and the palms of your hands and feet (palmoplantar hyperhidrosis). You may also sweat a lot on your head and face (facial hyperhidrosis). You’ll get sweating episodes at least once a week on both sides of your body, at the same time. However, the sweat may subside while you’re sleeping.
If your problem is due to a medication or illness, you’ll notice that you perspire profusely on multiple, large areas of the body. You won’t only have wet armpits, or sweaty palms on hands or feet. And, your sweating probably won’t go away at night either.
Common causes of generalized hyperhidrosis are menopause, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, obesity and even pregnancy. These conditions are usually onset later in life; that is, they don’t start in childhood, generally. Though, there are several other conditions that cause hyperhidrosis not mentioned here.
When a medication or illness is at play with your chronic sweating, it is critical to get to the bottom of the issue first. Treating you for sweating alone may overlook important precautions related to other parts of your health. This is also why it’s wise to see a doctor for an assessment, before seeking treatment for excessive sweating.
How do I know if I have hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating problems? Is my perspiration normal?
If you believe you have a chronic sweating condition, the first course of action is to see a doctor. Although we are a cosmetic clinic in Surrey, B.C., we are led by a licensed, practicing physician. We also have multiple doctors on staff who can perform medical assessments and services, including a diagnosis of hyperhidrosis.
A doctor will ask you a series of questions to determine the degree to which your perspiration is normal or excessive. Lab tests, such as urine tests or blood tests may be ordered. In the medical office, a doctor can also do sweat tests with thermoregulatory analysis, iodine starch, skin conductance (electrodermal responses) or others.
From there, potential solutions will be offered. These can range from special anti-perspirants, topical and oral prescriptions, Botox® for sweating injections, or thermal energy treatments. As a last resort, surgical options may also be considered.
While the following indicators shouldn’t be used to self-diagnose your condition, they can be a guide to help you determine whether or not you should see a doctor about hyperhidrosis. Ask yourself if you:
- Sweat for no apparent reason, all of a sudden, at any time of day?
- Sweat profusely after certain activities – whether or not those activities are typically associated with exertion?
- Sweat only when taking certain medications?
- Experience sweating episodes that come and go? For example, do you get hot flashes?
- Sweat profusely only on certain areas of your body?
- Sweat during the day but not while sleeping?
- Change clothing multiple times a day to stay dry, or to avoid bad body odour?
- Throw away clothing more often than those around you, due to sweat stains and odours that won’t go away?
- Avoid wearing certain fabrics to avoid embarrassing sweat or body odour?
- Are embarrassed to be in public or to participate in social activities because of your excess sweat?
- Find that even ‘extra strength’ antiperspirants don’t work for you?
If you’ve answered yes to two or more of the above, you may have a genetic sweating disorder or a temporary sweating condition that is treatable.
More information on hyperhidrosis questionnaires can be read about here.
We’d advise you to visit our clinic for a doctor’s consultation. We can then let you know about solutions we offer at our Surrey medspa to prevent excessive perspiration.
What treatments are available for excessive, heavy sweating in Vancouver? Is there a cure for hyperhidrosis?
Hyperhidrosis doesn’t have an official, one-time, ‘cure.’ However, there are several effective, short and long-term treatments that can be used, depending on your case.
The solutions to chronic sweating in the Vancouver area can be varied. They include:
- Destroying underarm sweat glands using thermal energy in as little as one treatment, using the miraDry® technology. This is also known as a ‘microwave’ technology to treat sweating.
- Botox® injections (or other botulinum toxin injections, meant to block nerves associated with sweat production). This usually requires about 1 – 2 weeks to take effect, and must be repeated every 4 – 6 months.
- Laser treatments with machines like ThermiGen®, to target sweat glands. We have found these are not as effective as miraDry®.
- Surgery to remove sweat glands in the armpits. This is the most invasive, risky and least-preferred option.
- Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS). This is a surgical procedure to block spinal nerves that trigger sweat in the palms of hands. Note: this procedure can cause a localized, excess sweat problem to be redirected to another part of the body.
- A prescribed, glycopyrrolate topical cream for facial and palmar hyperhidrosis (sweating on the face and hands).
- Prescription oral pills meant to block nerves that lead to sweating, called anticholinergics. Note: these can have side effects, including a parched mouth, marred vision problems and gut or bladder dysfunction.
- Prescription oral pills meant for depression, but which also reduce unexplained, or anxiety-related sweating.
- Iontophoresis – an underwater electrical current treatment to temporarily block nerves that cause palmoplantar hyperhidrosis. This must be repeated several times weekly.
- Extra-strength, clinical antiperspirants (usually containing aluminium chloride). For example, Certain Dri, Drysol, Xerac Ac, SweatBlock. These may be sold over-the-counter, or require a prescription. These can also irritate the skin, so you’ll want to use them sparingly.
And of course, if you do sweat a lot, extra hygiene routines may be wise. For example, wearing natural, breathable clothing (like cotton), and bathing regularly. For underarm sweating, clothing made of special fabrics, or clip-on pads to absorb sweat may also be helpful.
I don’t have hyperhidrosis, but I want to stop my perspiration for convenience. Can you still use cosmetic sweating treatments on me?
In many cases, yes! For example, our Surrey miraDry® service is a fast, effective and long-term solution to underarm sweating that can be used on anyone – even as a lifestyle choice.
Anyone can also get axillary (underarm) Botox® treatments, to prevent sweating for 4 – 6 months at a time. You don’t need to have a medical condition to qualify for this treatment.
For lower-cost, but not very long-term results, you can also try clinical grade antiperspirants sold over the counter. These can be great solutions for most people who sweat a lot, but aren’t considered to have a sweating disorder.
Whether or not you qualify for prescription-grade sweat interventions will be up to the determination of your doctor. Our on-staff doctor can also help you with this assessment, even if you are sure you don’t have a hyperhidrosis disorder. We encourage you to book an in-person consultation at our clinic, so we can help you find the most effective sweat solution for you.
What can your laser clinic do for my hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating problem?
We are one of the only cosmetic clinics in the Metro Vancouver area offering miraDry® treatments. This technology is a new, clinically proven solution for underarm sweat with long-lasting – even permanent – results. You can read more about our Vancouver miraDry® treatments here.
We have also been offering Botox® for palmar (hands), plantar (feet) and axillary (armpit) hyperhidrosis for over a decade. We currently have multiple doctors qualified to perform cosmetic injections at our clinic, for your safety.
While laser solutions do exist for hyperhidrosis treatments, such as ThermiGen®, we have found they don’t work as well as miraDry®. At our clinic, those looking for laser treatments to reduce sweating would be encouraged to opt for miraDry® instead.
Are hyperhidrosis treatments safe? Don’t I need to sweat?
If you are diagnosed with hyperhidrosis, you are probably sweating too much. So, being able to bring down your perspiration levels may actually be a good thing for your health.
If you simply sweat a little more than most people, or are annoyed by your sweat, but don’t necessarily have a prescribed problem with it, the answer to this is a little different. Certainly, all of us need to sweat. It’s an important part of our body’s ability to keep our temperature regulated.
However, sweat glands are located all over our bodies. So, if your sweat is creating odour, discomfort and embarrassment in your armpits, hands or feet, then it is likely still safe to reduce sweating in those spots. Your body will naturally redirect its moisture release through other sweat glands on your body.
There are also three types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine glands are the main ones. A third kind, called apoeccrine, is a ‘combined’ sweat gland of both apocrine and eccrine function.
The apocrine glands are the ones that produce the smelly sweat. They are usually located where your body has a lot of hair – in the armpits and groin. They are fewer in number around your body (composing only about 25% of your entire body’s sweat glands). They are mostly controlled by hormone responses, such as stress.
So, when we perform axillary sweating treatments under the arms, we are mostly targeting these apocrine, smelly sweat glands that are concentrated in ‘hairy’ regions. In other words, they are the fewer type of sweat gland anyway.
Eccrine sweat glands are more plentiful, produce less odour, and are spread around your body. Both types of sweat glands are used in thermoregulation. In short: your body will have enough sweat glands leftover after a sweating treatment, to keep itself thermoregulated.
When attempting to treat your hyperhidrosis, it is important to do so under the advice of a doctor. This is especially the case with Botox® injections for sweating, or when taking any prescribed solutions that are not sold over the counter. This will help to avoid complications to your health.
Are hyperhidrosis treatments covered by Medical Services Plan (MSP) or extended health insurance?
Hyperhidrosis disorder is classified as a medical condition, though not necessarily one that is covered by health plans and insurance providers when it comes to treatment solutions. In B.C., some prescribed solutions may be covered under the Medical Services Plan (MSP) or Pharmacare. Most other treatments are not covered.
Some extended health companies offer partial coverage for Botox® sweating treatments. We are able to help you with the process for claiming this treatment correctly.
Currently, miraDry® is not covered by insurance companies, nor MSP.
What is the cost of hyperhidrosis treatments at your Surrey medical spa?
The cost to treat hyperhidrosis can span a large range, depending on the solution you opt for. It can be as low as $10 – $50 a month for clinical strength antiperspirant. Or, it can cost upwards of $2500 for a miraDry® treatment.
Botox® hyperhidrosis treatments start at around $1,000 per session, and need to be repeated every 4 – 6 months. They may be covered by some insurance companies. We are able to provide both the prescription and treatment in one receipt, to help you with the format your insurance claim will require.
These are, of course, generalized estimates, to give you an idea of pricing. They are not meant to be absolute rates, nor set-in-stone prices, since each person’s case will be different.
We can’t urge enough that an in-person consultation should be your first step when hoping to solve your excessive sweat issues.
Initial consultations at our clinic do have a fee. However, this fee is then applied as credit towards treatments at our clinic, should you wish to proceed with them.