SAN ANTONIO, Texas. (KFSN) -- It's just one nerve, but it can make or break your health and at the very least, impact your comfort level in social situations. That one nerve runs across the back rib cage and controls the sweating mechanism of the body. Now an innovative surgical technique is cutting down on hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating.
"Even as little as kindergarten or first grade, having constantly sweaty hands," said Benjamin Hetrick.
Hands and feet that constantly sweat is a fact of life for people like Hetrick who have hyperhidrosis.
"I would dread doing a handshake, just handling things, the sweat was so excessive," Hetrick told Ivanhoe.
The only solution is surgery that cuts the sympathetic nerve, which regulates sweating. In the past, a sympathectomy was complicated. Doctors would have to collapse the lungs to perform the delicate operation. But a new method called Micro ETS has changed that.
"It's the way I use lightly pressured carbon dioxide," said David Nielson, M.D., a thoracic surgeon in San Antonio, Texas. (Read Full Interview)
Dr. Nielsen developed the technique. Using a 1/12th of an inch incision under each arm, a microscopic scope goes to the site of the sympathetic nerve, located on the ribs between the shoulder blades. Carbon dioxide is then pumped into the area between the lungs and the ribs, creating a space.
"It lifts gently, or pushes the lung away from this precise area, and then I take advantage of that temporary cavity to work in," detailed Dr. Nielsen.
No collapsing of the lungs is necessary, and the technique allows a clear picture of where the nerve is located, minimizing trauma or disturbing tissue nearby.
"I don't have to dig the tissue out at all to find the nerve," said Nielson.
Pain is reduced, and recovery time is quicker than the traditional nerve surgery.
"It made me a more normal person," said Hetrick.
The sypathectomy is also very effective for treating excessive blushing and other parts of the body that have heavy sweating.