Sweating when you’re hot or under pressure is normal. Nervous about a job interview? Your underarms become moist and sticky. Holding a plank position in a hot yoga class? The sweat is pouring down your face.
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But if you sweat for no reason and no over-the-counter or prescription antiperspirants have helped, you might want to consider Botox® injections for underarm sweating. Dermatologist Sherry Yu, MD, explains how it works.
Botox, the brand name for botulinum toxin, is an injectable medication that’s most well-known for its wrinkle-smoothing power. But it’s also great at stopping armpit sweat. It decreases underarm moisture by 82% to 87%. Dryness typically lasts between three to 12 months.
Body odor decreases, too. The funky smell from sweaty pits is made by bacteria that thrive in warm, moist places. Eliminate the moisture and the odor goes away as well.
But getting underarm Botox doesn’t mean you’re completely off the hook when it comes to wearing deodorant or antiperspirant, says Dr. Yu. “The goal of Botox injections is to reduce profuse sweating to a normal or slightly less-than-normal amount. Most people still have a little bit of sweating and may find they need deodorant or antiperspirant. But it varies from person to person.”
Botox is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) of the underarms. Doctors also use it for other abnormally sweaty areas of the body.
However, it can be more painful, and there’s a higher risk of side effects, if you treat the following areas with Botox:
Botox works by temporarily blocking the chemicals that signal it’s time for your glands to produce sweat. It doesn’t affect touch or sensation in the underarm area.
You only need one office visit to complete Botox treatment for underarm sweating. The procedure typically involves 25 injections in each armpit. Each time, your healthcare provider injects a small amount of Botox just under the skin’s surface with an extremely small needle.
“Some people don’t even feel the injections,” says Dr. Yu. “But if they do, they say it’s more uncomfortable than truly painful. It’s similar to a rubber band snap.”
You should see an improvement in sweating in about three to four days. The full, moisture-busting effects happen at around two weeks.
Sweat is necessary to cool your body. So if you get Botox injections to stop underarm sweat, does it prevent your body from cooling down? No — because each area of your body that sweats has only a fraction of your total sweat glands. Your underarms contain 2% of them. Reducing sweating in a few small areas won’t affect your body’s ability to cool down.
Another concern people have is that sweating less in one part of your body will increase sweat in other parts. But that doesn’t happen, either.
Botox injections in the armpits have almost no side effects besides the immediate discomfort of the injections, reports Dr. Yu. The most common side effect is muscle weakness, but that’s more of a concern for areas like the palms.
A board-certified dermatologist can safely perform Botox injections. Look for a doctor who frequently uses Botox for excessive sweating, not just wrinkles. “You want someone familiar with the treatment and any potential side effects,” says Dr. Yu.
Plus, a qualified dermatologist knows who shouldn’t get Botox: “People taking certain medications or those who have conditions such as myasthenia gravis usually aren’t candidates,” notes Dr. Yu.
Botox is usually priced per unit, and the cost can vary. But generally, it costs about $1,000 to do both underarms. In some cases, you can get insurance approval, says Dr. Yu, but that’s not for every patient with every type of insurance.
For those with excessive sweating, Botox injections are often worth it. After treatment, you can raise your arms without worry, and you no longer need more than one shirt a day. There’s no more covering up sweat rings with additional layers, either.
The result? You can go about your day feeling cool, comfortable and confident.