Student starts school without getting bullied for sweaty hands

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When our kids go back to school, it's not uncommon for parents to worry about how other students might treat our children. Kids can be bullied for all kinds of reasons.

Well, 14-year-old Alex Malgarejo wanted to start high school with confidence, and he wanted to be able to shake other students hands without being made fun of.

Malgarejo loves to play baseball. It seems so simple to so many, but for Malgarejo, it's been a struggle since he was six years old.

"When I pitched the ball, it doesn't go anywhere I want it because it slipped out of my hand," explained Malgarejo.

Malgarejo suffers from hyperhidrosis.

"Hyperhidrosis is where patients have abnormal amounts of sweating, and it can occur in their hands, under their armpits, on the soles of their feet," explained Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Matthew Greives of Children?'s Memorial Hermann and UT Health.

Hyperhidrosis affected most of Malgarejo's day-to-day activities.

"It was embarrassing to write because every time I wrote, I got nervous and the paper got wet," he said.

Kids bullied him.

"They just called me names and didn't want to shake my hand," added Malgarejo.

The bullying was hard for his mom, Maria Robledo.

"They have no compassion, no understanding, and they just want to make fun of other kids," said Robledo.

Since he was six, his mom has taken him to doctors and tried every medication and treatment. Nothing worked, so they visited Dr. Greives who suggested Botox injections.

"So, just like we use Botox to reduce wrinkles, it actually works on the nerves that cause your sweat glands to secrete," explained Dr. Greives.

They started with about 25 injections in each hand every three months, and unlike most patients, for Malgarejo, it didn't work. That's when Dr. Greives teamed up with Children's Memorial Hermann and UT Health Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Matthew Harting to try a surgical procedure called thorascopic sympathectomy to divide the nerves that affect the sweat glands.

"We make really small incisions about a centimeter or so under the armpits. We use a special camera and look in, and there's a nerve that runs inside the chest that if we cut at the right spot, it reduces that stimulation of the sweat glands to specific parts of the body," explained Dr. Harting.

The surgery on June 30 was a success. Now, Malgarejo plans to start high school with confidence, perfect his pitch, and try out for the baseball team.

"It's not embarrassing anymore because my hands don't sweat," he said.

With a procedure like this, sometimes sweat can show up in other areas of the body like the chest, back, and stomach, but Dr. Harting says 90 percent of patients are usually satisfied with the operation, even if they do have some sweating elsewhere.

This procedure is usually covered by insurance.

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