miraDry is the device name.
This is an article I saw in The Wall Street Journal in August of 2012. I copied and pasted it in case it disappears over time.
Here is the direct link if you want to see pictures, too. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444772404577587134096349766.html
ACHES & CLAIMSAugust 14, 2012, 12:42 p.m. ET
Too Much Sweating? Apply Heat
By LAURA JOHANNES
During one of the hottest summers in recorded history comes a new way to never let them see you sweat: Microwave your sweat glands.
During one of the hottest summers in recorded history comes a new way to never let them see you sweat: Microwave your sweat glands. Leslie Yazel has details on Lunch Break. Photo: Miramar Labs.
The procedure, called miraDry, from Miramar Labs Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year and became available in January to treat hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. The procedure uses microwave energy to destroy many of the 22,000 to 30,000 sweat glands in the armpits, Miramar says. Unlike other nonsurgical treatments for excessive sweating, it appears to last long term. Overall, the volume of sweat is reduced by an average of 82%, says company scientist Kathryn O'Shaughnessy.
At least 3% of the world's population suffers from hyperhidrosis, in which the sweating is considered excessive by medical standards, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, a Quakertown, Pa., nonprofit. Even powerful prescription antiperspirants don't always keep people dry, and quality of life can be affected, doctors say. The condition is commonly treated by Botox injections, which block chemical signals that cause sweating. But the effect is temporary and typically must be repeated twice a year.
MiraDry involves hourlong sessions of microwave energy applied to the armpits in a doctor's office. According to Miramar, the approximate amount of energy delivered to an average size underarm is 4,000 joules, a fraction of the 80,000 joules required to boil eight ounces of room-temperature water. Local anesthetic is used to numb the armpit so the full heat of the microwaves aren't felt, doctors say. After two or three sessions, the effect has been shown to last at least a year. It costs about $3,000 for two sessions, which aren't covered by insurance, the company says. Botox can cost some $1,000 a session and is covered by many insurers.
David Pariser, a professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., says miraDry is appealing because it lasts long term but may have a milder effect than Botox, giving some relief to patients but leaving them still sweating more than they'd like. A risk, adds Dr. Pariser, is that it isn't yet known if existing sweat glands will increase production over time to compensate. MiraDry "is a plus for patients who have hyperhidrosis, but it's not the be-all and end-all by any means," he says.
The microwave-generating machine.
A company-funded study of 120 adults with hyperhidrosis published earlier this year in the journal Dermatologic Surgery, measured the effect of two treatment sessions, with a third allowed as needed if patients hadn't seen improvement. A month after the final treatment, 89% of those treated with miraDry had a treatment success, defined as sweat reduced to "never noticeable" or "tolerable." By comparison, 54% of those who got a control treatment without the microwave energy saw a treatment success.
The positive effects held up in patients followed for a year, says study author Dee Anna Glaser, director of the division of cosmetic and laser surgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a paid member of Miramar's scientific advisory board. As far as scientists know, Dr. Glaser says, sweat glands, in general, don't grow back once they're destroyed. "We can't say [the procedure is] permanent, but based on what we know, it should give you long-term results," she adds.
Another company-funded study, published earlier this year in the same journal, found a 90% success rate in 31 patients after a year. This study involved some changes in the procedure, such as an improved hand piece that delivers the microwaves and energy settings that can be set up to 25% higher, the company says. Miramar now recommends waiting three months after the first treatment before performing a follow-up treatment. (In the first study, the second treatment was performed two weeks after the first.) Dr. Glaser says this likely improves results because swelling will be reduced by the second procedure, which helps in getting optimal placement of the microwaves.
Some doctors say they're waiting for longer-term, independently financed data. "Most of the studies are written with sponsorship of the company, so I don't trust them that much," says Los Angeles surgeon Rafael Reisfeld, who performs surgery for hyperhidrosis.
MiraDry, in addition to reducing sweat volume, kills apocrine glands, which cause odor, and damages hair follicles, resulting in sparser armpit hair. "You go in with hairy and smelly underarms and you come out smelling and looking like a rose," says Santa Monica, Calif., dermatologist Ava Shamban. For some men, the hair loss is a downside, she adds.
After the procedure, the underarms are swollen and tender for a week. Most people have minor swelling, but in some cases it can be a lump as big as a softball, says Dr. Shamban; the swelling is treated with steroids. Another side effect can be temporary numbness and tingling in the arm. A patient in one study, however, had muscle weakness in the left arm; it was improving when the patient was last seen six months after the procedure. To reduce risk of nerve damage, Miramar recommends doctors use the lowest energy setting in the upper part of the underarm, where nerves are closest to the surface.