Botox for Hyperhidrosis
Pretty much as soon as I hit puberty, I started to suffer with ludicrous underarm sweating. It was comically bad. I could be sat there as cool as you like, and still feel sweat dripping down the inside of my arms.
It’s always been a pretty touchy subject for me. Whilst it doesn’t smell, I always thought it drew unwanted attention, as people associate it with body odour, and as such I would never allow myself to wear any shirts that would show up those ominous dark patches under my arms. Hell, I could sweat through jumpers and suits. Nothing could hold it back.
I tried everything to tackle it – over the counter roll-ons that irritated my skin and made me want to tear my arms off; even shaving my armpits in the (false) hope that the hair was causing the sweat to bead and drip rather than simply evaporate. Nothing worked. When I did use the roll-ons (such as Triple Dry or Dri-Clor), and could bear the irritation, they would only work fleetingly before the sweating would return.
So, as our wedding loomed in March this year, I didn’t want anything to stand in my way. I was sick of ruining shirts, quickly making the underarms crusty and discoloured. I was sick of not being able to wear the colours I liked because I was terrified of the sweat patches I would leave in my wake. I wanted to wear a pink shirt for the wedding, so, after several years of thinking about it, I bit the bullet.
I got Botox.
Yes, Botox. Of facial paralysis fame. Botulinum toxin to be really specific. It’s a powerful neurotoxin and basically works by stopping your nerve endings firing in your muscles, preventing their contraction. Botox is actually used for a lot more than just preventing wrinkles from forming – it can relieve the muscular contractions associated with cerebral palsy, chronic migraines, and the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
But I didn’t need it for any of that. I needed Botox to stop my sweat glands from, well, sweating. It works in exactly the same way: it stops the nerve endings from telling your sweat glands to work.
It’s not typically available on the NHS. Though there are a few trusts that do offer it. So I went along to see Dr. Alison Warner at Skin Solutions Oxford for a private treatment.
First off, each under arm is marked with a grid. Then, depending on the size of the area of skin, somewhere between 15 to 20 injections of Botox are applied at regular intervals.
Does It Hurt?
It’s not a day at the beach, I’ll give you that. I found some areas I barely felt, others felt like someone was sticking a needle in my armpit. But on the whole, the pain was entirely manageable.
Incidentally, it’s not a deep injection. It’s a very fine needle, and they’re only shallow injections.
Is It Dangerous?
If I decided to do it myself, almost certainly. In the hands of a professional, not at all. The injections are shallow, so they don’t penetrate much muscle. At the very worst you may suffer from some slight weakness in your arms for a short period after the treatment. All I experienced was some bruising and soreness as a result of being injected tens of times in a sensitive area.
What About Side Effects?
Very few. The toxin may cause some flu-like symptoms, or muscular pain local to where the Botox was injected. Just to be safe I had Anna drive me both for support, and just in case I couldn’t lift my arms afterwards (I could… don’t worry!).
Does It Work?
You bet your ass it does. Hands down, it is the single most life-changing thing I have done. I used to worry about my sweating several times an hour, every day. It was awful. It affected my confidence, and I loathed it. Not two days after the treatment my sweating was already starting to reduce. After a week, it had all but stopped completely. That was the end of February. We’re now nearly in September and it’s just starting to come back, but it’s completely minor and I can still wear whatever I want.
How Much Does It Cost?
It varies, depending on who you see. Some charge for consultations, and some have a variable price depending on how much Botox they use. I personally was a little unsure about all of these – some would expect you to spend over a hundred pounds for the privilege of just talking to a doctor about it, before even telling you whether it would cost a further £300 or £600 (or more!).
Mercifully, Alison was entirely transparent. There was no consultation fee, and she charged a flat rate – £450. And I actually can’t wait to pay it again next year – It changed my life.