Surgery for uncontrollable sweating saves cop's job

Local surgeon helps cop keep his job

SAN ANTONIO -- Benjamin Hetrick tried everything to get rid of his excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis.

Medicine, cream, and even a type of electric current therapy all failed. That was a problem for the recent San Antonio police academy graduate.

"Gripping the weapon, the steering wheel when you're driving, handling suspects, trying to put on gloves, that used to take me a long time," Hetrick said.

The physical symptoms were one thing, but the disorder affected him mentally, too.

"I would have sweaty hands and it would make me nervous and I would get more sweaty and it would be this uncontrollable cycle where I'd work myself up into a nervous wreck," he said.

Last year Hetrick found out about Thoracic Surgeon David Nielson. Nielson developed a unique procedure for curing hyperhidrosis.

"I developed a technique several years ago miniaturizing, or making less invasive or minimally invasive, a technique that's called sympathectomy," said Nielson.

Basically, Nielson cuts the nerve that carries signals from the brain that tell certain parts of the body to sweat. Most surgeons create large incisions to get this done, while Nielson needs just one.

"Just imagine going from wet to completely dry. It affects almost everything you do," Nielson said.

Hetrick can relate. While his hyperhidrosis didn't keep him from graduating the academy, it did make his life as a police officer tougher than it had to be.

Some insurers cover the procedure, but his did not. Still, he said the $6,500 he paid was well worth it.

"My only regret was waiting so long," Hetrick said. "It really has made a huge difference.”

© 2017 KENS-TV


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