For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sweaty mess. And while it may not seem like that big of an issue, it’s something that I’ve always been self conscious about. I know, I know, everybody sweats, but not as much as I do. Like, to the point where I entirely avoid wearing certain fabrics and colors in fear of the pit stains that are bound to creep up before I even leave my apartment in the morning. In an effort to take back my wardrobe (nude bodysuit, I’ve got my sights set on you) and my confidence, I decided to give underarm injections (like Xeomin or Botox) a try.
After a bit of research and frantic googling, I learned the same Xeomin that gives my forehead wrinkles and crows feet a smooth appearance also doubles as a sweat stopper (the same goes for other neuromodulators such as Botox and Dysport). In addition to relaxing facial muscles, the neuromodulator blocks nerve signals that activate the sweat glands. So I booked an appointment with plastic surgeon Jennifer Levine, MD, to get my pits pricked.
But before I can tell you all about my experience, let's get into some of the basics first, including how neurotoxins work for excessive swearing, how long the results last, and what it costs.
What causes hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating?
Hyperhidrosis is the medical name for excessive sweating. It can occur in pretty much any circumstance, but things like anxiety, hormones, and movement/exercise can all trigger the sweat glands, sending them into overdrive. The condition tends to be hereditary, but there’s no telling why some family members may inherit it while others won’t.
As for the areas of the body most affected? The sweaty spots tend to be the underarms, palms of hands, soles of feet, forehead, lower back, and genitals. In particular, excessive underarm sweating is referred to as axillary hyperhidrosis. And in bad enough cases, sufferers are forced to change their shirt multiple times a day.
How do neurotoxins work for underarm sweating?
In a similar way that neurotoxins impact the muscles in the face to give skin a wrinkle-free appearance, sweat glands have little muscle fibers that affect how the sweat is secreted, explains Dr. Levine. By blocking the signals to those muscles, the glands aren’t triggered to release any sweat.
Typically, neurotoxins take up to two weeks for their effects to set in, but in my experience, it only takes a few days—both for my face and my underarms. For that reason, most doctors will have you back two weeks later to check in on how everything is going. The idea is that if you’re still experiencing some sweating, you may need a touch-up for any missed spots.
How long do neurotoxins last for underarm sweating?
“Neuromodulators for hyperhidrosis are going to work well for about three months,” says Dr. Levine. After that, you’ll have to repeat the treatment. Dr. Levine also says that you probably wouldn’t notice that one day you’re all of a sudden as sweaty as you used to be, but it’ll be more like a gradual return. And if you get into a routine of re-upping your neurotoxin like clockwork, you may feel that the effects last longer. As in, you may reach the four month mark and think oh, I haven’t had to go back for another dose in a while. But, that’s not to say this is a permanent solution. It may just take your body a little longer to get back to its normal sweaty self after not sweating for so long.
Do armpit injections make you sweat elsewhere?
Nope. Dr. Levine puts it this way, “if you think about the surface area of your axilla (underarms), in comparison to your whole body surface areas, it’s very small.” So, essentially there is no impact on the rest of the body. Your other sweat glands will remain unbothered, even when your underarms are put out of commission.
How much does Xeomin for underarm sweating hurt?
“It’s a little pinchy, but it’s not terrible,” says Dr. Levine, who offered me numbing cream before she started my injections. I went back and forth about whether to numb or not (I wanted to be able to give you my honest opinion on how it felt!), but, ultimately I decided to numb for a few minutes because why not?
There were about twenty needle pricks in each underarm and none of them were too painful. Plus, it’s such a quick treatment—I was done in about ten minutes—that even without numbing cream, it would be bearable. Lucky for me, Dr. Levine also enlisted the help of an assistant whose job it was to press down on a few of my pressure points as she administered my injections—this is to help with pain management. It was a welcome distraction and gave me something else to focus on during the treatment. My other pro tip: keep your eyes off the needle. What you can’t see won’t hurt you, trust.
How much do underarm injections cost?
The cost to be sweat-free is pretty steep. The price will vary based on your location, your injector’s fee, the type of neurotoxin you receive, and how many units you need But, in general, you can expect to pay $8 to $25 per unit (I received 100 units; 50 in each underarm), so you’re looking at $800 to $2,000 per treatment. Some practitioners will offer a discount if you plan to repeat the treatment on an ongoing basis.
My Xeomin for underarm sweating review:
The in-office experience was essentially painless. And I walked out of there with zero indication that I had anything done—a new first for me when walking out of a derm or plastic surgeon’s office.
There were the teensiest dots of blood on a tissue that Dr. Levine applied immediately after the injections, but as soon as that was wiped clean, nothing else was left behind. And I was wearing a white sweater, which was the ultimate test. There weren’t even any bumps from where the injections were administered into the skin. My underarms were just as underarm-y as when I walked in barely 15 minutes earlier.
Days two through five:
I asked Dr. Levine if there were any rules that I needed to follow post appointment, like did I have to forgo my daily workout the following day? (Experts usually recommend no exercising for 24 hours after facial injections.) To which she responded “there are no rules.”
I was cleared to exercise the next day and was intrigued to see if I’d be dry post-Peloton…I’m a millennial, okay? I’m used to instant gratification. Needless to say, the Xeomin didn’t work that fast. But, about three days later when I went for a particularly quick walk where I could feel the sweat beads trickling down my back, I returned home to dry underarms and zero sweat rings on my fitted gray sweater. TBH, it’s a weird feeling because I still feel like I’m sweating—and I am in other areas—but my underarms remain sweat-free. It also looks kind of funny when I have marks from my boob sweat and nothing under my arms, but I’ll take it. A life with even a little less sweat is the life for me.
Two weeks and beyond:
Things remained pretty much the same by the time I reached the two week mark. I went back for my follow-up appointment with Dr. Levine and didn't need any Xeomin touch-ups under my underarms.
In fact, the treatment was so effective for me that I stopped wearing deodorant entirely unless I'm working out. This has nothing to do with stinky sweat, and everything to do with the only negative side effect I’ve encountered: underarm chafing when I run. I’ve noticed that I’m more prone to irritation there that I’m assuming is because there’s more friction and less glide without sweat? That’s my theory at least. It’s an experience I’m willing to navigate in the name of finally being able to wear whatever colors and fabrics I want without being self-conscious. If you’re wondering if I’ll be keeping up with my sweat-stopping injections, the answer is yes. Gray t-shirts and non-breathable fabrics, I’m coming for ya.
Meet the expert:
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Lisa DeSantis is a freelance writer who has been in the beauty industry for nearly 10 years. She began her career in beauty and fashion at QVC and has since written for and contributed to top women’s magazines and digital brands such as Health, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, Byrdie, and more. She has tested thousands of products and considers herself a professional guinea pig who’s always on the search for the next big trends in beauty, wellness, and beyond.
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