Some of you have asked why haven’t I had endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) surgery. ETS is a very serious medical procedure that most people with hyperhidrosis turn to as a last resort for relief. There are pros and cons to this procedure, and the side effects, especially compensatory sweating (CS), are real and do occur. I spoke in person to someone who had ETS performed when I went to a hyperhidrosis symposium. We spoke for about 20 minutes, and he was sweating through his black T-shirt the entire time. He came to the symposium seeking Botox treatment for relief from compensatory sweating. While his original sweating had been cured, he was still suffering from the side effects of ETS surgery.
Because compensatory sweating can be worse than the original sweating, many people are now turning to subdermal laser ablation (SDLA) for secondary relief. SDLA typically is not covered by insurance and can range in price, with the upper end being around $10,ooo. For a treatment that isn’t guaranteed to work. I’ve also spoken with someone who has ETS and is now trying SDLA; she, I believe, is going through multiple rounds of treatment in an attempt to stop the compensatory sweating in her trunk area.
Only you can decide whether ETS surgery is something you want to pursue. Like any medical procedure, there are risks and benefits. The hard part about ETS is that you won’t know whether the treatment will work until after you’ve had it. They say the CS can lessen over time, but for me, this is a side effect that would be worse than my original palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. I already experience CS on my back after having Botox. I am not willing to subject myself to a procedure that is not guaranteed to work, is a serious medical procedure, and would most likely make me sweat in a different area of my body that could be more socially and professionally debilitating and harder to hide. I don’t want to have to worry even more about the types of clothes I can wear, completely sweating through my clothes and drenching a seat, or the damaging emotional impact from sweating even worse than I already do. I deal with my inner monologue enough as it is. I don’t want to give it the surround sound IMAX experience.
Once the nerves are ablated from ETS surgery, there is no going back. ETS is a permanent procedure. There have been no effective ETS surgery reversals reported. If you are considering ETS, please do your homework. Pay attention to the sources from where you are gathering information. Most search engine results will tout the awesomeness of ETS surgery. Of course they will. They want your money. Find a physician who is connected with the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHHS) using their Physician Finder. These physicians are IHHS-approved and will have better knowledge about hyperhidrosis. They have an arsenal of information and other treatments for hyperhidrosis besides surgery.
I’m not saying there aren’t successful ETS procedures performed. Some people do have great results. Only you can decide whether ETS is right for you.
To understand more about where I’m coming from regarding ETS surgery and how my body has responded to the treatments I’ve tried to stop my excessive sweating, you can read my post Reflections on Botox.
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