As a clinically proven treatment for excessive sweating, miraDry is still far too seldom talked about. As with any medical procedure, mysticism around what happens and what to expect is hardly comforting, so to help you decide if miraDry is right for you, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers.
How the procedure works
miraDry is a non-invasive treatment, used to treat hyperhidrosis and excessive underarm sweating, that works by using thermal microwave energy to destroy the sweat glands in the underarm, thus preventing underarm sweating. During treatment, the practitioner will use a handheld device against the underarm, which targets sweat glands. The microwave energy eliminates the glands, without causing damage to the skin or surrounding tissue, through a process called thermolysis (decomposition by heat). This is because water absorbs microwaves very well, so any tissue that has a high water content (e.g. sweat glands, since sweat is primarily water) will absorb a significant proportion of the microwaves directed at it. At the same time as heating the glands, the handpiece keeps the skin cool, to ensure no damage is done to the surrounding tissue.
Preparation for the procedure
We recommend that patients shave their armpits anywhere between four and six days before their appointment, and then allow the hair to regrow until the scheduled procedure – this is to minimise the risk of any minor cuts on the underarms, but also because the small amount of hair growth allows your practitioner to accurately identify the area to be treated. It’s also best to wear something that allows easy access to your underarms, like a sleeveless shirt with loose arm holes (think tank top, sports bra or camisole).
It’s also important to ensure that you do not wear any deodorant or antiperspirant on the day of your appointment.
What should I expect after miraDry treatment?
There’s a few common after-effects of miraDry treatment that you can expect to experience. You’re likely to experience underarm swelling, redness and tenderness for several days following treatment, and may also experience numbness and a tingling sensation.
Other, sometimes longer lasting side effects are bumps that can be felt under the skin, and a darkening of the skin, but these will gradually disappear over time. Rarely, patients experience a tightened sensation, which may slightly inhibit movement, but this can be relieved with massage, and, as with other side effects, will dissipate over time.
Immediately after treatment, it’s normal to have no sweating whatsoever in the treated area. After two to three weeks, however, some sweating may return. This change is due to post-treatment swelling and its dissipation. The amount of long-term sweat reduction differs between patients, but on average patients who have had the treatment report an 82% reduction in sweating after two treatments. For some patients, a third treatment is recommended.
If you’re worried about thermoregulation after treatment (your body’s ability to cool itself down), you needn’t be. For as much sweat as they’re capable of producing, the armpits actually only house about 2% of the body’s sweat glands. There’s no evidence that eliminating underarm sweat glands has any effect on thermoregulation, or that it triggers compensatory sweating (more sweating from other body parts).
You might also notice a reduction in hair regrowth, as miraDry also destroys neighbouring hair follicles along with sweat glands.
Most patients typically need one or two treatments to see a significant, permanent reduction in underarm sweat.
You should ice the treated area using ice-packs wrapped in a towel, and use over the counter anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling. Do this as needed over the few days following your appointment.
Keep the treated area clean with warm water and a gentle liquid soap. You can also apply an over the counter antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
You should avoid shaving and applying deodorant or antiperspirant for the next few days. If deodorant is something you feel you cannot go without, you should use a brand new product.
Wait a few days before resuming any rigorous activity or exercise, and try to wear loose fitting tops to avoid irritating the area.
How long does it take to recover from miraDry?
Mild symptoms like swelling and redness, and irritation are expected to resolve by themselves within a few weeks, though patients should notice a significant reduction after only the first few days. But since there are no severe side-effects, there is no intensive recovery period, as such. Patients can return to their normal routines immediately.
Should I take painkillers before miraDry treatment?
There’s no need to self-administer painkillers before your treatment. Your practitioner will use a local anaesthetic on the treatment area to ensure maximum comfort. However, it is always sensible to have some painkillers on hand just in case of post-procedure soreness
Should I take the day off work when I have miraDry?
It’s all up to personal preference. Treatment sessions only take an hour, and since it is an non invasive procedure, and only requires local anaesthesia, you can go right back to work after.