Monday, December 28, 2009



I am a New Zealander. I had ETS in 2001 for dripping, disabling palmar hyperhidrosis that had affected me since birth. Since then, I have had normally dry palms and I have never suffered any major or ongoing adverse side effects of ETS. I did experience some mild gustatory sweating for approximately two years after the surgery, but it faded away. I have never experienced CS (more below), anhidrosis, or any heart or lung function problems, or fatigue problems. All up, I am happy with the results of my surgery.

However, in recent years, I have learned that a significant number of ETS patients suffer adverse, chronic side effects after ETS that rob them of their health and quality of life – the results of their elective ETS surgery for Hyperhidrosis, Facial Blushing or Raynauds syndrome do not match what their surgeons promised. Many ETS patients deal with disabling side effects from this surgery – side effects that their surgeons never mentioned or downplayed the likelihood/severity of.

It is not for me to advise anyone on whether or not they should have ETS. However, I am disturbed that my own surgeon did not warn me of numerous potential adverse side effects associated with ETS that I now know have been extensively documented in the medical literature for decades. And the side effcts he did warn me about, such as CS and reduced exercise capacity, were described as being minor and having only a 1% risk of occurring - yet the medical literature states otherwise.

In addition, from 2009 to the present, I have both corresponded and met with a significant number of ETS patients from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Peru, aged from their early 20s to mid-40s, who report having experienced some or even all of the following side effects and health problems after ETS.

-Uncontrollable sweating on the body from the chest down to the legs that, for hyperhidrosis patients, can be far more distressing than the original, localised excessive sweating condition.
Doctors call this side effect 'compensatory sweating' (also known as CS) or 'compensatory hyperhidrosis', and it can be so severe that the ETS patient soaks through their clothing daily, requiring several changes of clothes and resulting in social and professional stress and disability.

-Inability to sweat on the face/head (anhidrosis)

-Painfully dry eyes/scalp

-Hair loss/thinning and/or loss of eyebrows

-Lowered resting and maximal heart rate and reduced exercise capacity

-Bradycardia (very low heart rate, may require a pacemaker)

-Breathlessness, even when doing low-intensity activities such as walking, child-minding or hoursehold chores.

-Ongoing fatigue

-Cold hands (can be painfully cold)

-Sweating on the face and head only when eating or eating certain foods. The sweating can be mild or severe, for example, ranging from a dampness to sweat that is continuously dripping off your head/face.
In severe cases, it can greatly limit the sufferer's desire to dine out, eat meals with family, friends, and colleagues, attend Christmas dinners, attend business lunches, etc. Doctors call this side effect 'gustatory sweating'.

-Impaired thermoregulation – the body can no longer adjust to changes in temperature, especially hot weather (loss of homeostasis). This can severely limit the sufferer's ability to go outside in summer/warm weather, play sports, and enjoy many outdoor social activities and pursuits, resulting in greatly reduced quality of life and family life.

-Extremely dry hands

-Erectile Dysfunction

-Difficulty reaching orgasm

-Loss of libido

-Blood pressure problems

-Stress intolerance


-Mental fogginess

-Loss of emotion

-Sensitivity to sounds and light

-Ongoing pain, particularly in the chest, back, limbs, or under the arms. Pain can be severe/disabling.

-Unexplained prickling, burning, numbness or tingling sensations in the body/limbs

Brief descriptions of medical conditions ETS surgery is commonly offered for:

– Excessive sweating of the hands, feet, underarms, face, head or body. The sweating can be so severe that sweat forms on and/or drips from the affected body part(s) almost continuously during waking hours. Hyperhidrosis is considered to be socially and professionally disabling by those affected.

Facial Blushing
– This condition is also known as 'erythrophobia', or 'fear of blushing'. It is a sudden and severe blushing of the face (the neck and upper chest can also be affected), sometimes to the point that it is burning and painful. Facial blushers typically find it impossible to look others in the eye without blushing deeply. Those affected consider the condition to be socially and professionally disabling.

– Discoloured, painful and excessively cold hands/feet/limbs. Raynauds is a vasospastic disorder, the cause of the phenomenon is believed to be the result of vasospasms that decrease blood supply to the respective regions. Sufferers can develop the first signs of frostbite in the affected body part(s).