photocredit | Kevin Galloway
FYI: that’s not the needle that’s used, I just liked the photo
Hi, I’m Lauren (everyone: hi lauren), and I have a problem with sweating. I have no idea why, but I overheat & start sweating very easily. If I’m nervous, angry, walking in heels (or really doing any kind of low exertion movement), I start to sweat and I hate it. I’m conditioned to dread summer, although I even sweat in the middle of winter when it’s freezing out! It’s a little ridiculous. In college before presentations, I’d walk the 4 blocks from my apartment to class, then change into my presentation outfit in the bathroom. I couldn’t walk FOUR BLOCKS in heels without sweating, and how embarrassing are underarm sweat stains even when you AREN’T standing in front of an attentive group of peers? I also wouldn’t just get a little damp – sweat would literally roll down the inside of my arms, when all I had done was walk around outside on a nice day. How gross is that! I tried all kinds of deodorants – extra strength ones, sweat-activated ones, men’s brands… I tried applying at night (which is supposed to be more effective) and applying throughout the day – no dice. I thought I was just abnormal, because no one around me seemed to have the same issue, but then I watched an episode of MTV’s True Life – I Have an Embarrassing Medical Condition. Krystal suffered from a medical condition known as Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. Her case was worse than mine – she would literally only wear black so that the sweat patches weren’t as noticeable. Seeing that episode was incredible – knowing I wasn’t the only one, and that there was an actual medical diagnosis was such a relief. I looked into treatments for it, and saw that there were topical, surgical, and Botox options. The topical treatment has been known to irritate the delicate skin under the arms, so that option was out. There’s also a surgical procedure where they literally scrape out the sweat glands from under your skin (?!), but I don’t think my case is extreme enough to warrant that kind of solution, so out. The last option, Botox injections, seemed like the perfect one for me, but I was still in college & treatments ranged from $600-$1000/year. Way out of my budget. I was bummed that none of the solutions were viable options, and went back to dealing like I had been.
After college I started working, which meant getting off my parent’s insurance plan and onto my own. I didn’t think about re-visiting the Botox until after I tried getting an IUD a couple months ago. My insurance completely covered the IUD placement, which got me wondering if it also covered Botox. I did a little research (also called my insurance company), and although Botox for cosmetic purposes (like wrinkles) is not covered, Botox for the medical treatment of hyperhidrosis is 100% covered – I just have to pay a $40 copay/visit for seeing a specialist. I was hysterically happy – to not have to worry about sweating and only pay $40 for the procedure is INCREDIBLE! Finding a doctor to do it was a little harder, but was able to track one down by searching for in-network Dermatologists on my insurance’s website, then calling around (I also looked up reviews on Yelp).
I made an appointment with the office I chose, and went in very excited to get the shots, but it didn’t happen that way. Most people that go to a Dermatologist’s office for Botox pay out of pocket since insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures. Since I was going for a medical procedure, my process was different. I had to be diagnosed first (visit #1: $40), then leave and let the office reach out to my insurance company for coverage pre-approval for the procedure, then go back for the injections (visit #2: $40). It’s safer to do it that way, because if the insurance company rejects the pre-approval you’re only out the specialist co-pay fee vs having to pay for the Botox yourself. I was bummed because I had been so excited to get treated that day, but whatever – I took their next available appointment a couple weeks later.
At the second appointment, I was asked to take off my shirt & bra, and put on a paper gown. The doctor used a sharpie to mark each underarm in 10-12 places in preparation for the injections. After cleaning the skin, he injected me with a tiny needle where he marked. I found that it was more painful along the perimeter vs towards the center, but the pain was never horrible. A couple of the sticks brought a tear to my eye, and it definitely wasn’t comfortable, but overall wasn’t too too bad. When he was done with both sides, he put cotton pads over the areas and had me bring my arms down. He told me to skip my workout that night, and to be gentle when showering, but that everything would be fine by the next day. He also said that it takes a couple days to fully kick in, but lasts for a year after that, and to make a follow-up appointment for three weeks from now. The nurse came in to check on the area, but there wasn’t any blood or anything like that.
I’m excited to see RESULTS!![highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]10/19 – Update #1[/highlight] The sweating has definitely decreased severely, but hasn’t stopped completely. I have my follow-up appointment on Nov 5th & can get more injections then, but want to see if it’s just taking me a little longer to see results. [highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]11/2 – Update #2[/highlight] Still sweating. A little bummed, but my next appointment is in a couple days – I’ll probably have to get more injections #fun [highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]11/5 – Update #3[/highlight] Very annoyed… I went today for my follow-up appointment, and the doctor said that it’s too soon to inject me again. I’d have to be pre-approved by insurance again, and if we tried now, they might say that not enough time has passed since treatment to warrant more injections. He told me to wait and see if the sweating tapers off and fully stops, to come back in 5 weeks (2 months after treatment), and to call him at the 4 week mark to start the pre-approval process if I’m still sweating. If it could take 2 months for effects to kick in, WHY AM I BACK AFTER THREE WEEKS?? [highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]1/18 – Update #4[/highlight] Still sweating =(. While it’s not at the level it was before treatment, it’s definitely more than after treatment – it’s coming back!! [highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]2/6 – Update #5[/highlight] Back to normal levels of sweating. Ugh. Starting the whole process over again & getting another round of injections. [highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]3/20 – Update #6[/highlight] I procrastinated a bit, but have an appointment today for shots. Pre-approval & making the appointment was much less annoying this time around since they knew me. I just called last week & asked them to start the pre-approval process for insurance coverage, was given an appointment date for today, and called yesterday to make sure the approval went through. My insurance company accepted without issue, so here we go again! [highlight bg=”#fffa99″ color=”#000000″]4/9 – Update #7[/highlight] My appointment went well, except for when the doctor accidentally hit a nerve with the needle. I felt a kind of fuzzy jolt all down my arm and my hand tingled for a while, but that was all. Sweating decreased drastically in the first week, and now I’m not sweating nearly as much as before. In fact, I finally felt that weird phenomenon where you’re convinced you’re sweating, but you’re actually completely dry. That was weird! I’m thinking I’ll have to go every 4-5 months to keep sweating down, but we’ll see.