I Tried Botox For Sweating And Haven’t Used Antiperspirant For Months

I’ve got a bone to pick with antiperspirant. I think we can agree that some type of pit protection is necessary to keep body odor at bay, but traditional antiperspirants with aluminum leave my underarms feeling stifled. The same ingredients that keep me from smelling dank refuse to come off in the shower—no matter how much scrubbing I do. So, I tried to go with a natural deodorant. But I ended up with damp armpits before I could even make it to the office.

So, I started searching around for sweat-stopping alternatives. That’s when I read about Botox for sweating. As a beauty editor, I haven’t completely ruled out the needle as an antiaging solution on my face—wrinkles are inevitable, and I try to embrace every line—but I never thought I’d get Botox in my armpits.

Since 2004, Botox has been a well-accepted treatment for excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis. But it can also be used for less serious cases of sweating—like mine. In fact, celebrities have been known to get a little underarm Botox before award season. Sweat stains are not an option when you’re wearing an expensive couture gown on loan. So, I decided to go under the needle to see if this would be the solution to all my pit troubles.

So how does Botox for sweating work?

The neurotoxin Botox stops nerves from firing by blocking the uptake of acetylcholine, one of the neurotransmitters that tells muscles to contract, explains Heidi Waldorf, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital. When injected in the face, it essentially freezes the nearby muscles, which smoothes wrinkles and prevents expression lines that could cause even more wrinkles to form. It’s the same mechanism at work when used to stop sweat, but it acts on glands instead of muscles. Botox intercepts the message telling the glands to secrete sweat, so they don’t.

Just to be clear: Sweating is an essential and totally normal bodily function that keeps humans from overheating. Botox is used as a localized treatment, so stopping the sweat in one area doesn’t affect the other areas of the body (read: your body can still sweat in other places to regulate its internal temperature). Waldorf also explains that the efficacy of this treatment varies. It could work really well for some and totally flop for others. Generally the effects last about six months. And after testing it out, I can honestly say I have totally forgotten where my antiperspirant spray is.

The entire process takes about 30 minutes.

When I arrived for my Botox appointment with dermatologist Cynthia Yalowitz, M.D., I was completely shaved (I knew there would be pictures involved). However, you don’t have to clear the area of hair for the injections to be effective. Then, I had two options: Some numbing cream or none. I wanted to be numb because…needles. And while I was getting pain protection, Yalowitz mixed the Botox, which comes in powder form and is diluted with saline to become a liquid. This particular treatment requires a full bottle of Botox, which is why it comes with a hefty $1000 price tag.

Needle being injected into armpit
Courtesy of Jessica Cruel

Yalowitz then drew a map around my armpit to mark the injection points. “There’s a starch iodine test you can do to see where the sweat glands are, and then you can target,” she says. “Most doctors don’t do that test prior to the injection because it’s pretty routine where people sweat from, especially if you don’t have excessive sweating.”

Finally, she began to inject the Botox. It didn’t hurt. Honestly it felt more like pin pricks with the occasional stinging in deeper spots. For the armpit area, Botox is injected into the muscle deeper than when you would on the face. “There are different techniques in terms of depth of injection depending on which part of the body we’re injecting,” explains Yalowitz. “Around the crow’s feet we go a little more superficial. [But around the armpit], it diffuses a little bit.” Immediately after the treatment, there is potential for bruising or pain. But I had neither.

Yes, my armpits are far less sweaty, and I no longer use deodorant. BUT I’ve got other problems.

Here’s a photo of me after 20 minutes of cardio both before and after Botox.

Yalowitz mentioned that it takes about a week to fully kick in. And during the two months I’ve had Botox, I have rarely reached for the deodorant. Even when I go to the gym, I don’t worry about applying a product. But while my underarms are relatively dry, that doesn’t stop me from sweating in other places like down my back and under my boobs.

You can definitely get Botox in other places besides your underarms. “One of the other places that I find is common is the scalp because people who sweat say their hair gets drenched,” says Waldorf. The palms and soles are also popular spots to get Botox injections for sweat, but Waldorf warns that the feet can be particularly painful.

There’s also the issue of smell. “If you’re using [Botox], you still may want a deodorant because the smell is different than the sweat,” says Waldorf. “The smell is often bacterial or chemical. It may reduce it because you’re having less sweat coming out, but it’s not going to change.” I experienced this particular pitfall myself. On the very few days I reached for my antiperspirant, it was because I wanted to mask a subtle case of body odor.

So, would I sign up for another injection of Botox? Not likely. While I am totally satisfied with the results, I can just as easily get sweat-free, scent-free underarms for $5 at my local drugstore versus this $1000 treatment. However, if you you have life-disrupting hyperhidrosis, Botox can be a total game-changer.

Posted originally on: https://www.self.com/story/botox-for-sweating