A thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) procedure is performed for a condition called hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), typically of the face (facial blushing), armpits, and/or palms. When antiperspirants and medications have failed, this minimally invasive surgical procedure can be effective. The surgery involves disrupting (usually by cutting or clipping) the sympathetic nerves on both sides of the body in the upper chest. The thoracic sympathetic nerves control sweat production in these areas of the body.
Although a thoracic sympathectomy can be effective at alleviating excessive sweating of the face, armpits, and palms, there may be side effects. Surgery can result in a side-effect called compensatory hyperhidrosis. When the body stops producing sweat in one area, such as the hands or underarms, it may compensate by increasing perspiration in other areas, like the chest, back, or legs.
Compensatory sweating can happen at varying degrees of intensity. In addition to compensatory sweating, other reported side effects of an ETS surgery include:
- Poor control of heart rate
- Dry eyes
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Emotional distress
- Sexual dysfunction
- Other problems related to the sympathetic nervous system
At least 10% (and probably more) will experience complications from this surgery. Fortunately, the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction is world renowned for our revolutionary nerve reconstruction procedures, which can reverse a thoracic sympathectomy that causes unwanted side effects.