Although it has been a very effective measure to control excessive sweating or even to stop sweating, there have been controversies about its effectiveness and also about possible side effects.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to explore the history of sympathectomy as a surgical method to cure sweating.
Excessive sweating is a very severe problem and it often impairs a person's social life.
Whether it is excessive sweating of hands, feet, or face, or armpit sweating, the sufferer longs for a lasting solution and, unfortunately, surgery has been the only lasting solution.
Excessive sweating is caused by heightened activity in the sympathetic chain, which is part of the autonomic nervous system found within the chest cavity.
The name 'sympathectomy' is derived from it.
Since the surgeon has to reach the sympathetic chain in the chest cavity, the operation is difficult.
On account of the difficulty associated with the surgery and the long time it took the patient to recover prevented sympathectomy from becoming overtly popular among physicians.
However, with the coming of fibreoptics in the last fifteen years or so, surgeons became able to perform the surgery without making large incisions.
That alleviated the suffering and the fear that went with the surgery.
In recent years, with the advent of endoscopic surgery, it became possible to reach the sympathetic chain with minimum incision.
Ever since that, endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) became the standard treatment to cure sweating.
There have been several refinements in sympathectomy in recent years.
Now only the exact region of the sympathetic chain responsible for sweating is operated on.
Novel methods like electrocautery, excision, ultrasound dissection and the clamping method are made use of to destroy the problematic segment of the sympathetic chain.
Owing to these refinements, sympathectomy can now be adopted as the most effective treatment to stop sweating.