Is compensatory sweating after surgery unavoidable?

    • Participant
      Vivian Morden on #1343

      I tried to learn more about ETS surgery, but instead I was only left scared. There are so many horror stories out there about ETS surgery. Most of them include compensatory sweating – again and again I see stories of people who got rid of excessive palmar sweating with ETS surgery only to get even worse compensatory sweating in some other part of the body – and usually one that is more difficult to treat.

      So, what is your opinion? Do you know of some ETS stories with happy endings or does virtually everyone end up with compensatory sweating as a post-surgical consequence..?


    • Participant
      JennyDale on #1347

      Hmm, I'd say that compensatory sweating is a common occurrence not just after ETS surgery, but also after some of the other aggressive hyperhidrosis treatments. It's only logical, since the body needs to get the sweat out somehow. People regularly have some compensatory sweating even after other types of treatments (e.g. Botox.)

      Ideally, even if it causes compensatory sweating, the surgery will make things better, because compensatory sweating will not be as bad as the original condition. Sadly, this is not a rule, so having a surgery can be risky. :/ Yep, there are some “horror” post-ETS sweating stories out there… but people opting for a surgery are often desperate and willing to take that risk.


    • Participant
      JR31 on #2921

      I'd say the majority of sympathectomy stories that I've read have included some level of compensatory sweating. For me the CS is very severe (although I am probably in the extreme minority of having had a lumbar sympathectomy in addition to ETS!), and undoubtedly much, much worse – such as more embarrassing – than anything I ever went through with excessive hand and foot sweating.
      So, although there may be some stories of people not experiencing CS after surgery, I've only ever come across those where it does happen. 🙁

    • Lynnette on #2963

      I had the surgery in 1974 for hand and foot sweating and unfortunately have had to deal with very severe CS ever since. Back in 1974 there were not too many options, like there are today. I'd suggest that anyone thinking about the surgery try all other options first.

    • Joy on #3499

      As far as I know, thoracoscopic sympathectomy is effective in the treatment of hyperhydrosis, however, compensatory sweating seems unavoidable and infrequently improves with time. Patients need to be carefully counselled before committing to surgery.

    • Jaime on #3505

      Yes. It is unavoidable.

    • Karen Zavila on #3629

      I had ETS surgery in 2013 and although my hands no longer sweat excessively, I am now suffering from compensatory sweating. It runs from mild to severe sweating on the abdomen, back, butt, face, feet and/or thighs. I heard it is an unavoidable side-effect.

    • markf on #3705


      I am a surgeon and none of my patients have had this procedure, maybe because I do not advise ETS very often and I never recommended lumbar ETS plantar hyperhidrosis. I knew a lot of patients with severe complications, especially debilitating compensatory sweating, following the routine ETS surgery for palmar hyperhidrosis. I advise other physicians against such procedures, especially the lumbar type. ETS for palmar hyperhidrosis is a procedure I might approve as an absolute last resort, especially if performed by an experienced surgeon. This procedure has a very high success rate but also a very high rate of compensatory sweating.

      -Mark F. , MD

    • Jessie on #3975

      Major hyperhidrosis is a reasonably common condition, affecting between 0.6% and 1% of the general population. Video-assisted thoracoscopic sympathectomy has become the cure of choice when medical treatment has failed because of the high visibility of the surgical field and the ease with which the intrathoracic anatomy is identified, the low morbidity, the short hospital stay, and the excellent cosmetic results. Although reports of efficacy have been excellent, there can be significant complications, in particular, compensatory sweating (CS). There are reports that indicate compensatory sweating can severely negatively impact on the quality of life, even in a successful operation. However, the incident of compensatory sweating is almost universal and infrequently improves with time. Patients must be carefully directed with respect to these issues, before compelling to surgery.

    • Marvin A on #4165

      On day 3 of my surgery I got scared because my right hand was staring to sweat again like crazy. A lot of you out there suffered compensatory sweating after the surgery…and i have to say I'm one of those now… I do have severely compensatory sweating coming from my back and my torso, groins and legs…but the sweat is gone from my hands and my feet have improved so much. I can tolerate this compensatory sweating compare to the nightmare I had with my hands. I have to say that heat is the worst enemy. And when I get in nervous situations I'll sweat from those body parts. I do not wear light clothing because of this. Just be aware that everybody is different and react different to surgery… the biggest con I can say is the compensatory sweating but I managed to live with it.

    • rudolf on #6544

      During this treatment of the iontophorosis, you sit with your hands, feet, or both in a shallow tray of water for about 20 to 30 minutes, while a low electrical current travels through the water. No one knows exactly how this treatment works, but experts believe it blocks sweat from getting to your skin's surface. You'll have to repeat this treatment at least a few times a week, but after several times you may stop sweating. Once you learn how to do iontophoresis, you can buy a machine to use at home. Some people only require a couple of treatments a month for maintenance.

    • Jenny T on #7898

      I would say that compensatory sweating after surgery is an unavoidable side-effect which can run from mild to severe sweating on the abdomen, back, butt, face, feet and/or thighs. I had it. It is not that bad and it does not happen all the time. It’s kind of random. But it’s really weird. I can actually feel sweat dripping down my back. It’s obviously still gross and doesn’t feel good, but it’s way better than my hands sweating.

    • Erwan Z. on #8172

      I had ETS for excessive palm sweating in 2012 and 2013. Then in 2014 I had a lumbar sympathectomy for excessive foot sweating. Then in 2015 I developed severe compensatory sweating on my back and legs and spread to my stomach, sides and chest.

      This compensatory sweating has a huge negative impact on life. I can often only walk for approximately five minutes before I am sweating excessively all over. It made my everyday life extremely difficult. This also has led to my depression and very low self-esteem, morale and confidence. I think it really is unavoidable.

      Surgery, in my opinion, was wrongly presented to me by the my healthcare provider as the only alternative to a lifetime of extremely sweaty hands and feet. The surgeon I recall told me about the possible side-effect of compensatory sweating.

      My doctor assured me that it was just my body adapting and thing will get better in time. But until now my situation has only got worse. The compensatory sweating has spread and I have spent thousands of dollars over the last years on a vast range of products and natural treatments none of which has helped.

      It is quite frustrating trying to function on a daily basis with this situation. I believe that ETS is sometimes being presented to people as the only alternative to living with their original hyperhidrosis condition in full, when in reality there are several non-surgical treatments available to help.

      I hope that my story is helpful for someone who might be considering surgery. Based on personal experience, I believe that these operations often cause a lot more problems than they solve.

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