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Endoscopic sympathectomy in the treatment of facial blushing.

Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2005 Sep;87(5):358-60.

Endoscopic sympathectomy in the treatment of facial blushing.Adair A, George ML, Camprodon R, Broadfield JA, Rennie JA.
Department of General Surgery, King's College Hospital, London, UK.

INTRODUCTION: Bilateral endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (BETS) has been shown to be an effective, permanent, and safe treatment for severe upper limb hyperhydrosis. More recently, the possibility of using BETS to treat facial blushing, a redness of the face bought on by emotional or social stress, has been raised. This followed incidental reports from patients of relief from their blushing following this procedure for hyperhydrosis. At King's College Hospital, 120 patients underwent BETS over a 3-year period for both upper limb hyperhydrosis and facial blushing. In this study we report our results in relation to facial blushing. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The outcome was evaluated by questionnaire and symptoms assessed using the visual analogue scale. Questions on postoperative complications and overall quality of life were included. RESULTS: A total of 80 patients responded to our questionnaire of whom 59 (74%) experienced facial blushing. In 12 patients, this was their only symptom. Severity of facial blushing was reduced from a mean score of 78 before operation to 26 after BETS (P < 0.001); 29% reported complete resolution of their facial blushing. There was no mortality or conversion to open surgery. Quality of life was reported to be much better in 63% of facial blushers following the procedure. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates both a statistically significant reduction in severity of facial blushing as well as a clear improvement in quality of life following a safe procedure with few complication rates. Facial blushing can, therefore, be considered as an indication for BETS on its own merit when not associated with hyperhydrosis.

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