23-Year-Old College Student Finds Relief from Excessive Sweating at Memorial Hyperhidrosis Center
August 2005 — Erika never attended her prom. As someone who suffered from hyperhidrosis — excessive sweating of the hands, feet and underarms — she was uncomfortable with physical contact. "When I was little," the 23-year-old Georgia college student shares, "I used to think I was never going to be able to get married and walk down the aisle because my hands would be sweating."
As a child, Erika also dreaded the part of the Catholic mass when everyone shook hands. And when she declared an accounting major in college, she worried about conducting business with a wet handshake. Now, those worries are behind her. Erika is one of the many hyperhidrosis patients enjoying a new life after receiving treatment at Memorial Hyperhidrosis Center.
The Search for Relief
Hyperhidrosis affects people's social lives, career choices, even clothing options, and often leads to embarrassment and anxiety.
According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, 3 percent of the world's population suffers from excessive sweating. Unfortunately, many of them don't consult a doctor and those who do seek medical advice don't always get the help they need. "Some patients have been told that excessive sweating was not a medical problem, but that it was in their head," says Ian Heger, MD, neurosurgeon on the medical staff at Memorial Regional Hospital, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Memorial Hospital West, Memorial Hospital Miramar and Memorial Hospital Pembroke. "People have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders and depression when hyperhidrosis is actually the cause of their psychological problems. When they finally hear there's something that can be done about it, it's like a ray of hope for them."
In April, while visiting her father in Pembroke Pines, Erika contacted Memorial Hyperhidrosis Center, one of only a few multidisciplinary centers in the country offering medical, surgical and psychological services, as well as an advanced registered nurse practitioner to manage each patient's case. "Most people don't understand that excessive sweating is a big deal," she says. "At Memorial Hyperhidrosis Center, they really do seem to care."
Erika had learned that surgeons at Memorial Hyperhidrosis Center perform endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), a minimally invasive procedure that involves the removal of the sympathetic nerve chain to provide relief from excessive sweating. Eager for a permanent solution for hyperhidrosis, she traveled from Georgia to South Florida to learn if she was a candidate for surgery. While waiting to undergo the procedure, she consulted with Todd Minars, MD, a dermatologist on the medical staff at Memorial Regional Hospital and a member of the Memorial Hyperhidrosis Center team, who prescribed a prescription antiperspirant and oral medication to temporarily stop the sweating. "We gave Erika these prescriptions not just as temporary solutions while she awaited surgery," says Dr. Minars, "but also to be sure that she had exhausted all of her options before choosing surgery."
Ultimately, Erika chose to undergo ETS surgery. Dr. Heger and Richard Cartledge, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon on the medical staff at Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West, performed the two-hour procedure that leaves three tiny scars under each arm and typically requires only a one-night hospital stay.
Days after her surgery, Erika went shopping with her dad and sweated just a little — because it was hot. "It kind of felt good, though," she says, "like what sweat is supposed to do — cool you off!"
If you would like a referral to a physician, call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.