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Hyperhidrosis is abnormal and excessive sweating that isn’t related to being overheated or exercising. Often occurring in the palms or the face, it can be a frustrating condition that can lead to both physical and emotional discomfort.

WakeMed’s thoracic surgeons offer a procedure called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) that can treat hyperhidrosis. In this minimally invasive procedure, surgeons cut the sympathetic nerves — which are the nerves that control sweating — in the part of the body that’s sweating excessively.

Symptoms of Hyperhidrosis

The primary symptom of hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. Sweating can be in one area of the body (called focal), or over all the body (generalized).

In focal hyperhidrosis, the most common areas to be affected are the hands, feet, armpits and face.

Causes of Hyperhidrosis

People with hyperhidrosis appear to have overactive sweat glands, but in most cases, no cause of the overactivity can be found. There may be a genetic component to the condition.

Diagnosing Hyperhidrosis

A doctor can look for visible signs of sweating, as well as take a detailed history of symptoms and their patterns and triggers.

We may also order tests, including a starch-iodine or paper test, which can indicate places of excessive sweating. We may also order blood tests to rule out other conditions.

Treating Hyperhidrosis

Our thoracic surgery team will generally only perform an endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy — which cuts the nerve that causes the excess sweating — when other treatments, such as strong antiperspirants, medications and Botox injections, are not successful.

The surgery takes one to three hours, and the patient will be placed under general anesthesia. Most patients stay in the hospital overnight and go home the next day.

Make an Appointment

We welcome new patients. If you’d like to meet with one of WakeMed’s thoracic experts, please make an appointment by calling us at 919-231-6333.