The first time I sweat through my shirt, I was in eighth grade. It was a lime green Lacoste polo (aka the chicest piece of clothing circa 2004) that my mom had surprised me with, and I walked into school with the collar popped, feeling beyond excited to show off my trendy new tee. But when it came time to raise my hand in second period math class, I knew something was wrong. Despite the fact that I had coated my underarms with deodorant that morning, as I had every day since I was 8 years old, there were two massive sweat stains creeping their way around my armpits.
In the last 15 years, I’ve been through countless incidents like this. So many, in fact, that gray t-shirts, white button downs, and anything with high-cut sleeves have been on my “do not wear” list for over a decade — not to mention the number of shirts I’ve bought and then had to throw away because they weren’t sweat-safe. Once, my best friend had to blow-dry my shirt (which, mind you, was a tank top) in the bathroom of a party because I had visible rings that reached down to my belly button.
I’ve tried every deodorant and antiperspirant on the market, from natural-grade to clinical-strength and all options in between, and not one of them have worked for me. Needless to say, I have a sweating problem, and it’s been a source of embarrassment nearly every day since the eighth grade. So, when the team at RealSelf emailed me asking if I wanted to try Botox for sweating issues, I jumped at the opportunity.
"Botox traditionally is used to block the muscle so that it doesn’t move or contract, which helps reduce the wrinkles in the face,” David Shafer, MD, FACS, explained to me as I sat in his chair and waited for my injections last month. "But what they found is that it also works on the sweat glands, so a very popular thing now is to inject it into the armpits to block them from producing sweat.”
Botox has been approved by the FDA to treat Hyperhidrosis, the medical condition that most of us know as “excess sweating,” but can also be used to treat moderate sweating from a cosmetic standpoint in places like the armpits, feet, and hands. “Anywhere you put Botox will stop sweating,” he said, before telling me something I already knew to be true: “It makes a huge difference in people’s lives.”
The treatment is said to last from three to five months, and depending on the area you choose to inject, can cost between $1,500 and $2,000. Keep in mind that the bigger the area, the more Botox the doctor will need to use. So, yes, it’s expensive, but for the results it provides most people – myself included – it’s a solid investment.
According to RealSelf, 95 percent of the people who have tried the treatment call it “worth it.” And an even crazier stat? “Probably about three quarters of the people [who try the treatment] don’t even have to wear deodorant anymore,” Dr. Shafer told me while prepping the syringes. It was in this moment that I knew I’d made the right choice.
Let’s get into my experience. For some (dumb, very dumb) reason, I opted to forego the numbing cream before the injections. I was a little nervous, but the needles were teeny tiny (fun fact: they’re the smallest needles that fluid can even pass through), and so I figured it couldn’t possibly hurt. Sadly, as I quickly learned, I was very wrong. It hurt. But it was only six to 10 shots in each armpit, and the process was over within a matter of minutes.
Dr. Shafer warned me that the Botox would take up to five days to kick in, which was frustrating given that it was a particularly hot day in New York City and I was hoping to stop sweating ASAP. Thankfully, though, the results were worth the wait. By the fifth day, I could already feel a significant difference in the amount of ‘pit sweat I was producing, and it stopped entirely after only one week. On the ninth day, I really put the efficacy of the treatment to the test and skipped deodorant before my morning workout class. By some miracle, after 60 minutes of intense HIIT training, I was sweating everywhere else in my body but my armpits. Plus, I didn’t smell at all.
As I write this, nearly two weeks later and during the dog days of summer, I’m happy to report that I’m sitting in my apartment in a gray t-shirt (no, I don’t have air conditioning), and there is not a sweat stain in sight. A month ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. To say that I feel more liberated than ever when it comes to my wardrobe would be a massive understatement, and I no longer have to spend a significant portion of my getting ready process agonizing over which clothes are “safe.” I don’t think I realized just how much my sweating problem was impacting my day-to-day until I discovered what it’s like to live without it.
Dr. Shafer told me that for some people, the treatment can be life changing, and in my case, it really is true.