The University of Maryland Medical Center is one of the oldest medical centers in the U.S. that offers thoracoscopic sympathectomy as a treatment for hyperhidrosis. In fact, the faculty at UMMC have been instrumental in teaching thoracoscopic surgical techniques to other surgeons worldwide.
If you were to undergo this procedure at UMMC, you would start by having a consultation with the thoracic surgeon and nurse. Further evaluation by a dermatologist or cardiologist may be suggested. If you were found to be a good candidate, you would schedule your surgery and undergo the procedure as described.
The surgery itself takes about an hour and rarely requires an overnight stay in the hospital. You should expect to be sitting up in a chair and walking within hours after you awaken from general anesthesia. You will be encouraged to cough and breathe deeply, often with the help of a device called an incentive spirometer, because expanding your lungs fully will help to prevent infection and collapse.
You can expect to feel some pain after the surgery. However, the medical team makes every effort to minimize your discomfort through intravenous (IV) and oral pain medications. If a chest tube needs to be placed to drain fluid or air, you may feel some discomfort and/or pressure from the tube. The team will keep track of your pain and do their best to alleviate it. It is very important for pain to be kept under control because taking deep breaths and moving are essential for quick recovery.
Typically, you will be able to resume normal activity within a few days. Your stitches will dissolve under the incision, so there is no need to return to have them removed.