Excessive sweating of the palms and armpits are a very common problem. Many suffer silently from this, due to embarrassment or lack of information about effective treatment. Sweating of the palms and armpits is normal in hot climates or during and after exercise. But individuals suffering from hyperhidrosis have excessive sweaty palms even during cold weather and at rest. This leads to skin problems of the palm and armpits.

Most researchers believe that this excessive sweating is the result of overactivity of the sympathetic nerves, which control sweat production. If these nerves are interrupted in some way, the sweating can be abolished. These nerves are grouped together in the chest to form a nerve chain called the “sympathetic chain”. At Vanderbilt we have pioneered the use of minimally invasive thoracic surgery, using two or three small band-aid sized incisions to clip these nerves. We are now using smaller cameras and instruments, the incisions being only 5 millimeters in length. The incisions are made under the armpit area and are thus hidden, even while wearing swimwear.

The effect of the operation on palm sweating is almost immediate, many having the excessive sweating abolished in the operating room itself. All studies have shown that this effect is maintained in the long term. The operation is very effective and abolishes or reduces sweating of the palm on virtually all patients undergoing the procedure. Occasional patients tend to get patches of excessive sweating on the back or thighs after the operation; however we believe that the modified method of doing the operation as practiced at Vanderbilt today will reduce the incidence of this problem.

Admission to hospital is on the morning of the operation. The procedure causes minimal discomfort and we now discharge patients from hospital on the day after the operation. Most patients are back to work after a week of recuperation at home.

Surgery can thus offer an effective and relatively safe method to cure this condition. In the patient testimonial section you can read about one person’s experience with the procedure.