That has been my experience for as long as I can remember, and to say it made me self-conscious was an understatement.
Our bodies contain anywhere from two to five million sweat glands, with a higher density in the underarms, palms, soles and face. When we overheat, our nervous system responds by altering our breathing and blood flow patterns. This activates our sweat glands and they begin to secrete water and chemical compounds to cool us down. However, I’m one of the two million people in the UK* who seem to suffer from hyperhidrosis – excess sweating – caused by overactive sweat glands.
It's a condition that presented most noticeably on my face, and was more than just inconvenient. When I’d have an episode, and couldn’t run to the bathroom to pat my skin dry or head outside to cool down, my stress levels would rise, making the sweating even more profuse. Consequently, sheer embarrassment meant I’d avoid making eye contact with people and lost all confidence.
The treatment"Aluminium is the industry standard anti-perspirant ingredient," says Aesthetic Doctor Maryam Zamani. "It works well on the body but the face is a tricky area to treat as it tends to be more sensitive, making irritation and breakouts commonplace.
"While prescription medication is an option, the long list of side effects, from a dry mouth and constipation to blurry vision, don’t render them particularly appealing. However, muscle relaxing injections, when administered correctly, make for the perfect failsafe option," she explains.
You’re more than likely aware that muscle relaxing injections have traditionally been used to smooth the appearance of expression lines by temporarily paralysing the muscles responsible for causing them. It does this by blocking neurotransmitters that tell muscles to contract. The same process is employed in a bid to stop sweat, however this time, the muscle relaxant is injected into the skin rather than the muscle to prevent the same neurotransmitters from activating our sweat glands.
There’s a common myth that muscle relaxants, when used for hyperhidrosis, block sweat production in the injected area, only to leave you sweating more in another. But Zamani reassured me this was not the case. So, I decided to give the treatment a go.
With no numbing cream and the thought of having multiple injections in my face I was a little nervous, but need not have been. We discussed where exactly my face sweats the most – my nose, upper lip, temples – and Zamani went to work injecting each area.
The experienceShe injected 60 units into various areas of my face, which is about the same amount of muscle relaxant usually used on one area of the face when inhibiting muscles to target fine lines. It took less than 10 minutes and was relatively painless. I couldn’t wait to jump on the hot and stuffy Tube and test it out, but Dr. Zamani explained that it would take about a week to kick in.
A week went by and I jetted off on holiday to test the treatment in hotter climes. Under the impression that I would no longer sweat, I was disappointed that this was not the case (although I did seem to be sweating less than usual).
I looked to Dr. Zamani for advice and she informed me that this was normal, that I’d still sweat a little during physical activity. She also warned me that it’s incredibly important to administer this injectable on the face cautiously, as it can seep into the muscle and cause asymmetry. Wonky eyebrows did not appeal so I was thankful for her caution, and I looked forward to getting a top up on my return.
Post my second appointment I saw more improvement – yes, when it was hot and I wasn’t sedentary I did still sweat, but there was a marked difference to pre-treatment. The difference meant I felt less embarrassed and could be myself around people, I didn’t shy away from social activities where I'd previously worried I’d get too sweaty in the face, and my makeup stayed in place far better than ever before.