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What You Need to Know About Compensatory Sweating and ETS Surgery

Daily discomfort. Perpetual embarrassment. Canceling events. Excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis affects every aspect of your life. It’s natural to want a permanent solution. Before you jump to any conclusions, make sure you extensively research ETS surgery and all potential side effects such as compensatory sweating.

What Is Compensatory Sweating?

Compensatory hyperhidrosis, or compensatory sweating, is a side effect of endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy surgery (ETS). Overcompensating for the now dry area, after surgery some patients experience excessive sweating in areas that never sweated extensively before. This includes the back, chest, abdomen, legs, face and/or butt.

ETS is an invasive surgery option for primary focal hyperhidrosis (or excessive sweating in one area). It’s typically done for patients who have extreme palmar hyperhidrosis, or “sweaty palms,” but is also a last resort for severe axillary hyperhidrosis and facial sweating.

When undergoing ETS surgery, doctors insert a camera into the chest and cut the sympathetic nerve around the rib cage that control sweating in the area of concern. General anesthesia is required, and the procedure cannot be reversed.

While stopping overactive sweat glands might sound ideal, hyperhidrosis surgery can have serious side effects, and is generally not recommended. Thompson Tee co-founder Randy had the procedure and now lives with the effects. You can read about his experience with ETS here.

Nearly all ETS patients experience some degree of compensatory sweating. Depending on the individual, it can be the same or more extreme than your original excessive sweating condition.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted research on compensatory sweating and published a study of the effects of ETS. Of 157 patients who underwent ETS surgery, 89% experienced compensatory sweating post-surgery. It was so severe for 35% of cases that they had to change their clothes during the day.

Compensatory Sweating Treatments

ETS surgery is permanent and irreversible and risking the side effects of compensatory sweat may not be worth it. With any medical condition, surgery should be your last option. Make sure to do extensive research and talk to a dermatologist and physician before making the decision to get ETS.

If you've had the ETS procedure and now suffer from compensatory sweating, there are steps you can take to control it. To manage your symptoms, try these tips:

Use fans strategically

Keep a fan at your desk and throughout the house to circulate air and keep you cool.

Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated helps regulate body temperature and control sweat.

Minimize your stimulant intake

Spicy foods, sugar and caffeine can all trigger your sweat glands.

Talk to a dermatologist

There may be other topical compensatory sweating treatments you can try to help manage your sweat.

Create a sweat kit

While it won’t solve the issue, being prepared can help manage your sweat and ease the constant nerves and stress that come with managing hyperhidrosis. Keep extra rags, shirts, whatever anti-sweat gear you need to help you get through any situation.

Get the proper wardrobe

Let your clothes do some of the work. Thompson Tee undershirts have a sweat proof barrier that absorbs sweat and releases it as vapor. You’ll forget you’re sweating and can get back to your life. It’s an affordable, simple alternative to ETS surgery that could have a major impact on your life.

Manage your stress

Stress and anxiety exacerbate sweating. By taking measures to control your emotions, you can prevent stress sweating from worsening your problem.

Living with excessive sweating is a daily challenge that causes personal and professional struggles. We hope this helps you manage your symptoms and get back to living.

What other tips do you have for dealing with compensatory sweating?