Late results of endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy for hyperhidrosis and facial blushing

Br J Surg. 2011 Dec;98(12):1719-24. doi: 10.1002/bjs.7682. Epub 2011 Sep 16.


Background: The purpose of this study was to clarify the long-term effects, side-effects and overall satisfaction rates of endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) used in the treatment of hyperhidrosis and facial blushing.

Methods: Some 3015 patients had bilateral ETS from 1989 to 1998. A questionnaire follow-up was used. Some of the patients had participated in a previous follow-up study, and the answers in both surveys were compared.

Results: A total of 1700 patients responded (56·4 per cent); mean(s.d.) follow-up was 14·6(2·4) years. The best result was achieved for palmar hyperhidrosis (95·6 per cent) compared with axillary hyperhidrosis (68·9 per cent), facial hyperhidrosis (83 per cent) and facial blushing (72·8 per cent) (P < 0·001). Compensatory sweating, the main side-effect, was present in 80·0 per cent. Some 6·5 per cent were dissatisfied and 13·5 per cent regretted having the procedure. Patients with palmar hyperhidrosis were more satisfied (86·6 per cent) than those with axillary hyperhidrosis (66·0 per cent), facial hyperhidrosis (74 per cent) or facial blushing (73·5 per cent) (P < 0·001). Women were more satisfied than men (85·4 versus 71·4 per cent; P < 0·001). The procedure regret rate rose from 7·8 per cent in the first survey to 13·5 per cent in the present one.

Conclusion: ETS had an excellent and lasting effect on palmar hyperhidrosis. The effect on facial and axillary hyperhidrosis and facial blushing was less rewarding. The procedure regret rate increased over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blushing / physiology*
  • Child
  • Endoscopy / adverse effects
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperhidrosis / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sympathectomy / adverse effects
  • Sympathectomy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult