Standing Appointment is our review series that investigates the best new and notable cosmetic procedures in the aesthetics space and determines whether or not they are worth trying for yourself. This week, one writer tries Botox for excessive sweating.
If you haven’t heard of Botox, you’ve clearly been living under a rock. The injectable (which employs toxin onobotulinumtoxinA) has become one of the most common cosmetic procedures for preventing and smoothing facial wrinkles and fine lines, and has now become as common place as a facial or massage. However, a much lesser-known fact about Botox is that it is also used frequently for medical procedures, in addition to cosmetic. Doctors regularly treat patients with Botox injections for a variety of conditions, including chronic migraines, neck and eye spasms, overactive bladder, and excessive sweating.
Botox’s main toxin, the aforementioned onobotulinumtoxinA, is able to block certain chemical signals from nerves, mostly signals that cause muscles to contract. So while this is known to help relax facial muscles and reduce wrinkles, it also applies to other bodily functions impacted by muscle and nerve response. In the case of sweating, Botox injections block the nerve signals that activate the sweat glands, controlling the sweating in the area of injection.
Years before I knew anything about the versatility of Botox, I was dealing with the sweating symptoms it treats. Indeed, I’ve struggled with excessive underarm sweating — medically known as hyperhidrosis — since childhood. Whatever the weather, whatever the activity, my underarms would be perspiring, even when it was 30 degrees outside. While some things certainly worsen the condition, such as heightened emotions, stress, or anxiety, my hyperhidrosis has been a constant in my everyday life, even in the most boring or mundane of moments. It isn’t related to heat or exercise, or normal activities that make one sweat — it’s overactive sweat glands.
Anyone who has experienced it can attest that it’s a highly uncomfortable way to live. Personally, it’s been a source of embarrassment for many years, even creating social anxiety in many situations. I would try to avoid sweat stains by way of loose-fitting tops or darker colors, but it is still hard to avoid it when the condition would flare up. Plus, whether or not a sweat stain is visible, the clammy, unpleasant sensation is still there — and completely uncontrollable.
Over the years, I’ve tried pretty much every clinical-strength deodorant on the market, even prescription antiperspirants, but nothing worked against the excessive sweating I dealt with. Discovering Botox injections as a solution for hyperhidrosis was to be a life-changing revelation.
I first decided to test out the treatment with premium skin and body care clinic SkinSpirit and, upon arriving at my appointment, Physician’s Assistant Nina Sedighi talked me through some of the basics of the procedure. Here’s everything you need to know.
How Does Botox Work For Sweating?
“Excessive sweating is a common condition that can affect the underarms, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and foreheads,” says Sedighi. “In people with hyperhidrosis, the nerves that signal the sweat glands are overactive. Botox injections help block the nerves which activate sweat glands, resulting in decreased sweating to the area.”
The Botox injection is localized to a pre-marked, targeted underarm area and injected with a small needle. While Sedighi explained the treatment shouldn’t hurt, she did inform me that it might feel like a bit of underarm pinching. I have a very low pain tolerance, and my nerves were in high gear, so I opted for a numbing cream to ensure maximum comfort. Sedighi generously applied the numbing cream to each underarm and we waited about 10 minutes before officially beginning the treatment, enough time for the cream to take action. Once she began injecting, I didn’t feel any pain, just a bit of pressure at the injection points. “For optimal results on the underarms, I usually administer 50 units of Botox to each underarm” Sedighi confirmed.
What Are The Benefits?
The treatment can be expensive (though is sometimes covered by insurance), requiring up to 100 units of Botox at an average of $10 to $15 per unit, so it’s important to know there is a true return on investment. According to research, Botox is a highly effective treatment for hyperhidrosis and has been shown to result in an 82% to 87% decrease in underarm sweating. In addition to underarm sweating, Botox is used to treat sweaty palms, feet, and foreheads, showing similar positive results in clinical trials.
Sedighi adds that patients can expect “decreased perspiration for up to six months, and most importantly, improved quality of life (say goodbye to sweat stains)!”
Who Is An Ideal Candidate?
“If you’re a healthy adult and suffer from excessive underarm sweating and it is affecting your quality of life, then you may be the perfect candidate” says Sedighi. Most candidates for the treatment have already tried prescription antiperspirants without results, or are looking for a more permanent, long-lasting solution to their hyperhidrosis.
However, “if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have neuromuscular disorders or allergies to neurotoxins, then this treatment is not suited for you.” says Sedighi.
What Are The Side Effects?
“There aren’t many side effects, but some patients may experience bruising and soreness in and around the injection area, or swelling and redness,” shares Sedighi. “These occurrences normally resolve fairly quickly on their own.” Though very uncommon, she adds that “rare side effects include flu-like symptoms, headaches, or muscle weakness”.
I did not experience any side effects myself, though I did notice a bit of redness in the area, particularly the spots where the Botox was injected. However, no soreness or bruising whatsoever.
What Is The Aftercare?
The treatment itself is very brief — all in all, the procedure took about 20 minutes — and there is also little aftercare to consider. “I recommend avoiding deodorant/antiperspirants day of treatment, along with strenuous exercise and heat, such as saunas and hot tubs for 24 hours. If discomfort is felt, a cold compress can be applied to the area.”
I followed directions and avoided both deodorant and exercise for a full 24 hours. I also waited the same amount of time to shower, just to be extra cautious that no excessive heat made its way into the underarm area.
How Long Does Botox Take To Kick In?
Amazingly, the results can be pretty immediate. “Improvement may be noticed in just a few days, but it takes about two weeks to fully kick in,” says Sedighi. And while the treatment is not a permanent solution for underarm sweating, the results can last up to 12 months for some.
My Final Results
After receiving the treatment, I noticed results within two days, and they were dramatic. It’s now been about a month and I have had zero instances of excessive (or even minimal) sweating, aside from when working out. Even when working out, the underarm “sweat” is more of a clamminess. So far, the treatment has been completely effective and has made for a massive improvement in my everyday life. Even in moments of stress or anxiety over the last few weeks, my underarms have remained calm and dry. I never thought I would be able to successfully treat my hyperhidrosis — but I am so grateful for Botox; it quite literally changed my life. I no longer have to consider what I wear, what I’m doing, raising my arms, or even just dealing with the daily discomfort of underarm sweat.
Though the treatment can be expensive, I would argue it is absolutely worth the cost and would recommend this to anyone who also suffers from excessive sweating. Your quality of life will be greatly improved. I will definitely be returning for repeat treatments when my current Botox wears off.