A neurosurgeon at the University of Iowa is helping people overcome, through minor surgery, what he calls an embarrassing social handicap. It’s called hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating, usually in the palms of the hands. The U-of-I’s Dr. Pat Hitchon had the genetic condition when he was young and one of his children has it as well. He says the surgery helps prevent hyperhidrosis from becoming a “major hindrance” in a person’s life. Dr. Hitchon says the condition makes it almost unthinkable to shake hands with someone, hold hands romantically, dance, play a musical instrument, type at a keyboard or even write without smudging the page. Depending on the severity, there may also be excessive sweating on the soles of the feet, the head, the neck and in the armpits. Not only is hyperhidrosis an embarrassment, Hitchon says it can effect a person’s health. It can make a person predisposed to infections, dermatitis and other skin problems, though it’s usually not a medically-necessary procedure. Hitchon says the surgery involves four button hole-sized incisions in the chest and the patient can usually leave the hospital the same day — and start on a drier and less anxiety-filled life.
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