By Janet Podolak, The News-Herald Posted:
Impromptu hugs are impossible.
White and colored shirts are out of the question.
After a couple of wearings, T-shirts need their sleeves cut off.
Dry cleaning and wardrobe replacement costs become astronomical.
These were facts of life for Brett Fraser of Mentor until a recent procedure to eliminate his profuse underarm perspiration.
Despite the passage of more than two decades he acutely recalls the nickname “Pits” given him when he attended Memorial Junior High.
“I had really sweaty armpits since adolescence,” he said.
But after his embarrassment, he embraced it. ”
It was part of who I was,” he said. “I was a guy, and guys sweat.”
His excessive perspiration didn’t improve as he grew older.
“I wore a lot of black,” he said.
But all his shirts quickly acquired stains from his excessive perspiration seat and became crusty under the arms from the heavy duty antiperspirant he wore.
“And the antiperspirant didn’t work very well,” he said.
Even on a winter day, his armpits would drip with sweat when he was doing nothing more than sitting at his desk working on his computer. Hugs were impossible, and even something as innocuous as raising a glass for a toast needed second thoughts in his life.
Excessive perspiration isn’t something often talked about. But an estimated one in five adults has the same problem, said Dr. Mark Komar, a family physician with Lake County Family Practice.
“We’re not sure why it happens but some people have an overabundance of underarm sweat glands,” he said. “It’s called hyperhidrosis, and it’s not at all uncommon.”
Other people have over-active sweat glands, producing five times as much perspiration as is needed.
“Sweat is the body’s way of cooling itself, but the underarm glands don’t really even do that,” Komar said. “Their function is to produce sweat as an anti-chafing device.”
But it was a discovery made in June while working on a job that provided Fraser with a solution.
Fraser, a videographer, was working with Northcoast Laser Cosmetics in Mentor and other local companies to produce a video for the Beauty and You event, staged to raise awareness for breast cancer.
“I saw an ad for miraDry while I was at Northcoast,” he said. “They told me it wasn’t yet available, and I asked them to let me know when it was.”
On Dec. 12, Fraser became the first person in this area to undergo the procedure at Northcoast. The miraDry procedure uses microwave technology to destroy the two types of underarm sweat glands: those that produce perspiration and those that produce odor. It’s performed in the Mentor Avenue offices of Northcoast Laser Cosmetics.
“I was in and out in a couple of hours,” he said. “I had no pain whatsoever and very little discomfort the following day.”
He said he used an antiperspirant “just in case” on Saturday night when he went out for the evening, but otherwise he hasn’t needed it at all.
“First they numb your armpit and then they go over the area with what feels like a little vacuum,” he said.
He was told that he might experience a momentary hot spot while the procedure was being done, but that didn’t happen to him, he said.
Komar, medical director for Northcoast Laser Cosmetics, said a registered nurse with special training does the procedure under his oversight.
Prescription antiperspirants and medication are the recommended first line of action. Botox injections also can be used to disable the sweat glands.
“Studies tell us that a huge number of people are just not satisfied with what’s available out there,” he said. “And that was what was behind the development of this technology.”
He said the results are permanent and have no negative side effects.
The downside might be the cost, which isn’t covered by health insurance. The price varies, but two treatments, about a month apart, are recommended at a cost of about $3,000.
“Its really a pretty amazing technology,” Komar said.
Northcoast Laser Cosmetics
9500 Mentor Ave., Suite 130