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Honolulu Star-Advertiser

June 4, 2016


Vein and Skin Center of Hawaii laser tech Jade Fernandez uses a miraDry device on patient Rosemarie Cardenas, who takes a video of the procedure. The device uses thermal energy to permanently eliminate sweat and odor glands.

The human race might exist today due in part to sweat and body odor, which our ancestors found sexy and alluring.

To a certain extent, studies have shown some of the attraction remains today, but for the most part, unsightly and malodorous perspiration is an undesirable fact of life in humid climates, and some people will do anything to avoid breaking a sweat, including removing their sweat glands once and for all.

The Vein and Skin Center of Hawaii recently launched a new treatment called miraDry, which permanently eliminates 82 percent of underarm sweat glands in a single session. The nonsurgical treatment, which uses targeted microwave heat energy, was first approved by the FDA in 2011. Following treatment, clients are reportedly liberated from stained clothing and use of deodorants and antiperspirants.

Rosemarie Cardenas, 45, said excessive sweating — a medical condition known as hyperhidrosishas — had been a problem for her since she was a college student. Back then, she said, she had to blast her car air conditioner to dry her clothes before heading off to class. And up until recently, thinking about ways around her sweat problem occupied a good portion of her day.

“I’m so sweaty I can’t use deodorant because it doesn’t stay, and if I use a prescription formula, my skin gets dry and itchy,” she said.

She started wearing underarm pads, but “they make noise when you move around.”

Visiting Vein and Skin Center of Hawaii founder and chief medical officer Dr. W.Y. Chung’s offices for treatment last week, Cardenas was optimistic that miraDry would rid her of the problem for good. She said she felt no pain during the procedure, which started with local anesthesia and typically takes 30 to 40 minutes per armpit.

There are two types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands are distributed throughout the human body, and their watery secretions help to keep the body cool. This perspiration doesn’t smell. Body odor comes from normal skin bacteria breaking down protein- and lipid-rich secretions released from the apocrine glands that sit alongside the eccrine glands in the armpits.

Apocrine glands are also found in the genital area. Both armpit and genital regions also contain hairs that help fan and spread body odors.

These glands begin to function during puberty, then slow down as we age, meaning seniors are less likely to suffer from body odor. Apocrine glands usually develop with hair follicles and open into them. Coincidentally, the miraDry treatment also removes 70 percent of hair follicles, reducing the amount of unwanted hair.

Chung said it is safe to remove underarm sweat glands because they represent only 2 percent of the body’s 2 million to 4 million sweat glands.

Prior to miraDry, he said the most effective treatment for excessive armpit sweating was Botox injections, but those need to be repeated every six months, at an annual cost of about $3,000. In comparison, the one-time miraDry treatment is $1,950.

Side effects can include localized pain equivalent to a sunburn for up to 48 hours and increased odor a few days after treatment as the glands die off, releasing the last of their scent. Some thinner patients might experience lumps in their underarm skin for up to three months.

Chung, who has treated about 30 people here since introducing the service in March, said, “I’ve already seen it change lives. People no longer have to use antiperspirants so their clothes don’t get stained. I’ve seen people go out and buy entire new wardrobes because they no longer have to wear only black.”

As for Cardenas, who works for a construction company, a week after the miraDry treatment, she said she still had some swelling and numbness in her armpits but that a day after the treatment, “I felt the difference.”

“Before, there was odor and I was so uncomfortable. One day later I felt a little sweat, but that’s to be expected because it only removes 80 percent. I feel really confident, and I’m glad I did it because I tried everything and nothing else worked.”
The Vein and Skin Center of Hawaii is in the Pan Am Building at 1600 Kapiolani Blvd. Call 949-8346. For a video of the procedure, visit

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