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The Scoop on MiraDry: Can This New Procedure Really Stop You From Sweating?
"I loooooove summer, don't get me wrong -- but I could do without the profuse perspiration factor. Sweating during a workout is one thing; sweating while dressed in a sweet new outfit and waiting on the subway platform at 8:30 a.m. is another thing entirely. So I was intrigued to learn about a relatively new medical procedure that's picking up steam all over the country: It's called MiraDry, and it claims to reduce a person's underarm sweat by more than 80 percent, using -- get this -- microwave energy.
To learn more, I talked with Carolyn Jacob, MD, medical director at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. Jacob's practice has been performing MiraDry since it became commercially available last January; Dr. Jacob says interest has skyrocketed -- they're now treating 15 or more patients per month. (Full disclosure necessary: Jacob is also on the advisory board of MiraDry's parent company.) MiraDry's also spread to more than 100 dermatology practices in the United States since its FDA approval, as well as to Canada, Japan and South Korea.
The MiraDry device, Jacob told me, uses microwaves similar to the type that we use to heat up our food. (Weird, right?) Only here, they're heating up the water that makes up our sweat glands, essentially destroying them while still protecting the skin and fat cells around them. Company-funded studies have shown that two MiraDry treatments, three months apart, almost eliminates underarm sweat for most people -- so much so that many of them stop wearing antiperspirant altogether. (Underarm odor is reduced -- but not completely eliminated, Jacob says, since it's caused by a bacteria that thrives on sweat.)
So what's the catch? Undearms may be a bit sore and swollen for a few days; it may feel "like you have a softball under your arm," Jacob explains. The device only works on pits, too; so far there's no similar treatment for clammy palms, glistening foreheads or, um, boob sweat.
That last reason is why MiraDry is really marketed toward the roughly 4 percent of people who have been diagnosed -- and the estimated 17 percent who suffer in silence -- with excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis: the kind that ruins clothes, embarrasses you on dates, makes it nearly impossible to speak in public and happens out of the blue, without rising temperatures or a lot of physical activity. (Not, unfortunately, those of us who just have uncomfortable commutes.) After all, three grand is a big price to pay -- but for some, Jacob says, it's totally worth it."
MacMillan, Amanda. "The Scoop on MiraDry: Can This New Procedure Really Stop You From Sweating?" Self Magazine. Web. 10 July 2013