Current treatments range from the simple -- the use of antiperspirants with aluminum chloride -- to the extreme -- the removal of underarm sweat glands. A relatively new and less invasive surgical technique known as endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) is also gaining popularity but is still somewhat controversial. Though supporters of the procedure claim that its side effects are minimal, others say it can result in nerve damage and may have unacceptable side effects.
Those treated with Botox in the German study reported no long-lasting or serious side effects. The treatment was judged to be far more effective than any non-surgical technique now in use.
"Personally, I have used Botox in the treatment of dozens of patients with excessive sweating, and I have no doubt that it works," Harold Brody, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Emory University Medical School in Atlanta, tells WebMD. "This study does not really tell us anything that we didn't already know. But it is a large, multicenter study, and that is important for receiving FDA approval for this indication." Brody, who is also president of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, reviewed this study for WebMD.
"Many people with this condition don't really know that there are treatments out there for them," he said. "They think they have to live with this, but they do have options. Liposuction of the sweat glands is another treatment that can be performed on an outpatient basis and can be used in combination with botulinum toxin injections."
Patients treated with Botox injections generally have to be retreated within a year. Heilesen says she was told her treatment would last from five to eight months.
"I will definitely do it again," she says. "It is just such a relief to be able to speak in front of a room full of people without worrying. This problem definitely affects people's perceptions of you. If people see you have big sweat marks under your arms, they immediately think you are nervous even if you are not."