Sweaty Palms | Dr. Prem Pillay, Singapore
WHAT IS SWEATY PALMS?
Sweaty palms refers to excessive sweating of the palms and is also known by the medical term : Hyperhydrosis.
People with this problem may also have sweaty armpits and sweaty feet.
WHY DOES SWEATY PALMS OCCUR?
This not caused by any injury, or eating the wrong food or an infection caught from another person. It is caused by an over activity in a part of the nervous system which starts in childhood. The over activity occurs in part of the brain called the hypothalamus and is transmitted to the hands and the feet through a relay system called the sympathetic nervous system.
WHO GETS SWEATY PALMS?
This condition can occur in anyone. It is more common in certain ethnic groups including Chinese and Israelis. However, it can occur at any age. It usually starts in childhood often becoming more obvious in the teenage years. It can run in families with brothers and sisters sharing the problem. However the gene is not a strong one and the likelihood of an affected person’s children having the same problem is not high.
HOW IS SWEATY PALMS MEDICALLY TREATED?
Medical treatment for massive sweating consists of agents to dry up the hand and which have to be topically applied. Once such agent is called Drichlor or Aluminium Hydroxide. It is not a cure and has to be used daily. It can be effective for mild sweaty palms but is not so effective for severe sweaty palms. The hands may feel tight after use.
Pills for sweaty palms tend to have side-effects including blurring of vision, dryness of the mouth and difficulty in passing urine. Most doctors do not recommend them. Lontophoresis is an electrical treatment for sweaty palms which can reduce sweating for a few days. The treatment will have to be repeated. It can be useful for students just before their examinations. However it is not a cure for sweaty palms.
CAN SWEATY PALMS BE CURED?
Yes, sweaty palms can be cured by an operation called minendoscopic sympathectomy (MES). This operation interrupts the abnormal increased signals to the hands by precisely burning a nerve relay station called the T2 sympathetic ganglion. This operation is recommended for those who are genuinely troubled by sweaty palms at work and socially and who have not found medical treatment useful. MES is the latest method for the minimally invasive treatment of sweaty palms. Older operations include video-endoscopic syrnpathectomy (VES) and open cervical and transaxillary sympathectomy.
HOW IS THE MES OPERATION DONE?
The operation is done under general anaesthesia. A tiny nick (about 3mm in diameter) is made in each armpit. It is through this nick that the mini-endoscope (similar to a telescope) is introduced. Through the endoscope the surgeon burns the T2 sympathetic ganglion. The surgery takes approximately 1 hour. At the end of the surgery a single stitch is used to close the nick in the armpit.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO STAY IN HOSPITAL?
Generally you come into hospital the night before surgery. The operation is done early the next morning and you can be discharged later that same evening once you have recovered from the general anaesthesia. The other option is to be admitted to Day Surgery in the late morning, have the MES in the afternoon and be discharged the same night.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO WORK AFTER SURGERY?
You can return to work the next day after surgery if you want to. Your single stitch in each armpit will be removed about 1 week after surgery.
HOW MUCH PAIN AND DISCOMFORT IS THERE AFTER SURGERY?
The incisions in your armpit are very small with this method. Pain and discomfort is therefore very much less than the older method. Also the very small nick in the armpit leaves an almost inconspicous scar.
WHAT IS THE SUCCESS RATE FOR MES SURGERY?
The success rate is approximately 98% for MES surgery for sweaty palms.