What Is Laser Sweat Ablation?

Andrea Cross

Laser sweat ablation is a medical procedure that involves the destruction and removal of the eccrine glands in the armpits, the glands that cause people to sweat. Doctors perform the procedure on individuals who suffer from excessive, watery sweating, called hyperhidrosis. This condition can be quite embarrassing and uncomfortable, and laser sweat ablation provides a permanent solution to the problem. It is used as an alternative treatment to Botox, medications, and more extensive surgery.

A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.

The procedure is normally carried out in a clinic. A sweat test first determines the areas of the armpits that need the most treatment. The doctor or nurse marks these areas, and the patient is then injected with a local anesthetic. Small incisions, approximately 2 to 3 millimeters in length, are made in the armpits, and the doctor separates the skin from the underlying layer of fat. He or she inserts an infrared laser fiber into the incisions and discharges it, destroying the eccrine glands that are present in the underside of the skin.

Laser sweat ablation provides a permanent solution to sweating problems.
Laser sweat ablation provides a permanent solution to sweating problems.

Once the glands have been destroyed, the doctor removes the dead tissue by suctioning it out of the skin. The doctor then arranges the armpit skin back into place. As the incisions are too small to require stitches, a compression bandage is applied to the area instead to keep the skin in place for proper healing. The entire laser sweat ablation procedure usually takes only a couple of hours. The doctor often prescribes antibiotics to prevent any infection from occurring.

Laser sweat ablation destroys the eccrine glands that cause sweating.
Laser sweat ablation destroys the eccrine glands that cause sweating.

Like any medical procedure, laser sweat ablation has risks. There is a small risk of the treatment not working or that the glands may eventually grow back in the long term. Pain, numbness, and bruising may occur, but this is usually temporary. There is also the possibility of hair loss and the loss of pigmentation in darker-colored skin. More serious risks include infection, the breakdown of the skin in the armpit, and lympocele, or the leaking of lymph fluid.

Laser sweat ablation may be performed on people who suffer from excessive sweaty palms.
Laser sweat ablation may be performed on people who suffer from excessive sweaty palms.

Many people who have had laser sweat ablation therapy find the results to be very effective. Although it can be quite expensive, it provides a permanent solution to the problem with a very small amount of scarring. If the procedure works, it can improve the quality of life for the patient, reducing the need for heavy antiperspirants, sweat pads, and expensive medications that may have unwanted side effects.

Many people who have had laser sweat ablation therapy find the results to be very effective.
Many people who have had laser sweat ablation therapy find the results to be very effective.

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