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Teenager Finds Relief Through Minimally Invasive Surgery

When Ashley* was 9 years old, she started having problems in school -- but not the type of problems that many children have. Ashley was a bright, attentive student. She got good grades and paid attention in class. Her problem stemmed from the fact that she had trouble holding onto her pencil. Ashley's palms were so sweaty that it kept slipping out of her hand.

Her problem didn't stop there. Unlike the other girls in her class, Ashley couldn't wear strapped sandals because her feet would slip out of them.

At age 12, Ashley's sweating was becoming a social embarrassment. After visiting her family physician, he told her that it could be hyperhidrosis -- a condition of extreme sweating in the hands, feet, or armpits. Ashley's doctor explained the different procedures that could help her, and eventually, referred her to Mark Ferguson, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Dr. Ferguson is a nationally recognized expert who has performed many thoracic surgeries. "Ashley's condition is one that we see frequently, and the impact it had on her daily life was substantial. She was an excellent candidate for surgery, which promised long-lasting relief from her hyperhidrosis."

About a month after first seeing Dr. Ferguson, Ashley had surgery. She wasn't even nervous about the procedure. "Dr. Ferguson was very helpful. I never had any doubts (about the surgery)."

"The procedure was straightforward," said Dr. Ferguson. "She was out of the operating room before 9 a.m. and left for home by noon."

After four days, Ashley was back to her regular routine. She enjoyed concentrating on her classes -- instead of concentrating on gripping her pencil.

Dr. Ferguson noted that "Ashley had the type of response to surgery that we expect in most patients. Her incisions were not bothersome, she only missed two days of school, and the excessive hand sweating she experienced was completely gone. She was quite pleased with her outcome."

*The patient's name has been changed.

December 2003

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If you have additional questions regarding hyperhidrosis, please call the Section of Thoracic Surgery at (773) 702-3551.