Hyperhidrosis Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks associated with the video-assisted thoracic sympathectomy?

Risks for this operation are minimal. Rarely infection, injury to surrounding tissue, pneumothorax (air remains in the chest wall after the surgery) and excessive bleeding have been known to occur. Please discuss risks and side effects with your doctor.

What are the side effects associated with the procedure?

Mild to moderate compensatory sweating (excessive sweating on the back, abdomen, thighs and/or legs) will occasionally be experienced by some patients. Gustatory sweating, an increase in sweating while eating or smelling certain foods, is a rare occurrence. Another possibility is Horner syndrome (droopy eye). Please discuss risks and side effects with your doctor.

What is the success rate of the procedure?

This procedure has a success rate of nearly 98%. Keep in mind that each individual's case is unique and no success rate can be guaranteed. You should speak to your physician for more information about your specific case.

What happens to the other nerves in the chest?

The sympathetic nerve chain has a built in "backup" system. Other nerves compensate for the function of the removed nerve region, and there are little or no long-term side effects.

Do symptoms recur after the surgery?

Symptoms rarely ever recur.

How long does recovery take?

The actual procedure typically takes 30 to 45 minutes, and patients return home the same day. Sedentary activity may be resumed within a day or two and sports activities after a week or two. The postoperative pain that may occur is minimal and can be treated by over-the-counter medication or mild prescription medications.

Does my insurance cover any of the costs of the surgery?

Many health insurance plans will cover this procedure, but ask your provider to be certain.

Where can I have this surgery done?

This procedure is performed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Please call 1-800-CEDARS-1 (233-2771) to schedule an appointment.

Who is excluded from having this procedure?

Patients who have undergone a prior chest surgery or with certain infections, such as lung/chest abscesses, may be excluded from having this procedure because access to the sympathetic nerve is obstructed.