My name is Natasha and I’m a sweater.
Yes, I’m aware we all sweat—it’s the body’s way of regulating heat, cooling us down, and expunging toxins—but for 6 million Americans, sweating is more than something that happens when it’s warm out or after SoulCycle thanks to a chronic condition called hyperhidrosis. I can’t tell you how many rings of moisture, accompanied by an unpleasant waft, have taken hold of new silk Equipment blouses or embroidered cotton-linen Marant mini dresses. Did I mention I work in fashion?
My battle with sweat stains and underarm odor has prompted me to hit the needle in the past. For those who aren’t aware, Botox is a highly effective treatment in banishing excessive perspiration and works like a charm—for six to nine months. Just ask any member of the frozen-face brigade and they’ll testify that relaxants, sadly, wear off. Not to mention, Botox ain’t cheap and it’s far from favorable for the needle adverse.
Now, imagine my delight when I learned of a rather radical sounding new treatment that promised to nuke my sweat glands into oblivion for good. Honestly, it was enough to get me, well, all hot and sweaty. It’s called MiraDry and it’s hailed as a non-invasive solution that uses microwave energy to destroy busy sweat glands forever. So, in the interest of research—and saving those silk shirts—I happily played guinea pig to find out if it’s really as effective as it sounds.
MiraDry is the only “minimally invasive treatment that can safely and effectively destroy the sweat glands to offer the patient permanent and significant reduction in sweating with hair removal thrown in.” In 2012, clinical data from the University of British Columbia showed that MiraDry was successful in reducing underarm sweat in over 90 percent of patients with a reported average sweat reduction of 82 percent.
MiraDry, which is FDA approved and will set you back a cool $2,500 is performed by a physician (the lovely Dr. Jeremy Brauer, Director of Director of Clinical Research at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York in my case). The patient is first given a consultation to ensure they’re a good candidate (medical conditions, previous surgery or scarring in the area could prove to be an issue), discuss what’ll go down, and answer any questions or concerns. The procedure is then performed by a hand-held device which delivers electromagnetic energy—hot blasts of heat that penetrates beneath the skin to the sweat glands causing their demise. Top to bottom, the whole thing lasts around an hour depending on the size of the area and, yes, your underarms are anesthetized first. By an arsenal of needles I’m afraid.
They say beauty is pain— even if it’s for practical purposes—and I’m not gonna lie, the treatment was no walk in the park. Thankfully, the attentive Dr. Brauer helped soften the blow (actually, the burn.) In a bright clinical room, my pits were measured and a template was created to determine the path to be nuked (note: it’s not possible to hit every single gland, thus the keyword “reduction”). Then the fun starts. Four big fat needles (two in each underarm) are administered—these become the entry points for the little needle sticks fueled with anesthetic that follow (24 under each arm in my case—#ouch).
The point is to numb the area completely so the procedure is as close to painless as possible. Disclaimer: I wasn’t easy to anesthetize due to a combination of having my period (note to others, check where you are in your cycle and schedule accordingly) and the fact I hail from a Scottish/Irish background. Being from a long line of redheads—even though I’m brunette—apparently means I’m more sensitive to pain. Once that part was done, Dr. Brauer got to work waving his magic wand (the handheld device) over the template blasting the heat. Yes, it gets hot and it hurt in parts. After each section was finished, he’d followed the heat up with a cooling blast before moving onto the next. Like I said, not exactly an aromatherapy facial.
Following the treatment, your poor swollen pits look like they’re covered in grid-like hickeys because the device leaves some serious suction marks. In addition, you could have some bruising (or if you’re really lucky golf-ball-sized lumps) and expect to feel a little woozy thanks to the anesthetic. Ice is swiftly applied and, in no time, you’re up and out of there clutching a recovery sheet which recommends repeated icing for three days and swallowing regular doses of ibuprofen (I lived on it.) You’ll also be warned against rigorous exercise for a few days—no complaints here!—and I definitely felt a little sore and sorry for myself that evening, and sensitive in the week or so after. There was no way in hell I was washing that area or going anywhere near a razor, and I did have the odd lump and bump, though nothing the size you’d expect to see on the green.
Now for the million dollar question: did it work? I was too sore and sensitive initially to notice a change, but three weeks after the treatment I subjected myself to the ultimate sweat test—a trip to Miami, the humidity capital of the world. The verdict is definitely more a case of reduction than total removal—I still sweat on super-hot days like everyone else—but nothing like I did before. As a reformed chronic sweater, I now face a future without underarm botox, sweat pads and constant wet, stinky pits. And that’s got me (and my husband, my friends, and my colleagues) much, much happier. And nope, you won’t suddenly have sweat showing up via other body parts by way of compensation, according to Dr. Brauer, as the treatment area is so small.
“Numbers aside, there’s a great enough change to say this treatment does alter how patients go about their life with less worry about sweating and it’s nice to be able to do that for someone, ” Dr. Brauer told me.
“Younger generations obviously embrace this technology but I see everything from TV personalities, to those whose sweating affects their jobs and prevents them from doing daily activities,” says Dr. Bauer who performs the procedure a few times a week and admits popularity is on the rise. “Like any other medical treatment, once you demonstrate that it’s safe, ethical, and it works, awareness grows.”
The need-to-know before you go
Now that I’m a pro, here are a few tips to keep in mind: While recovery is short, make sure to schedule the treatment when you know you’ll have a few days of downtime to give your body a chance to heal—not the day before a big event, an important work meeting, or anything else that requires you to be 100 percent comfortable and on your game—and make sure you don’t have your period (take it from me). Don’t shave a couple days prior to the procedure and refrain from deodorant, powders and perfumes on D Day (loose, light clothing will also prove a godsend after).