I don’t blush anymore ! ETS

Written by on August 18, 2008 with 6 Comments

From: blzucker
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1999 04:22:10

Well – actually that’s not exactly true…

I’m 25 years old and have experienced significant facial blushing since I can remember (elementary school).  My brother has had the same problems as me growing up.  We’ve both got red hair and very light complexions which obviously don’t make dealing with Rosacea any easier.  As many of you have also done, I’ve tried about 200 different cleansers and moisturizers.  They all produce different results… some better than others.  None of them are good enough.  I have zero tolerance for this condition.

The reason that I titled this message "I don’t blush anymore" is because I’ve had Endoscopic Transthoracic Surgury (ETS).  You can find out a ton of information on this procedure all over the Web.  It started as a cure for sweaty palms and it was discovered that the surgical procedure also stopped facial sweating (actually stops all sweating above the nipple), and greatly decreases facial blushing.  My palms might have sweat much more than the average person’s, but facial blushing was 2 million times more embarrasing than a clammy handshake as far as I was concerned.  I did a TREMENDOUS amout of research on this surgery.  It’s extremely risky from the standpoint of possible side effects — mainly conpensatory sweating in other parts of your body (the upper half of your body loses much of its connection with your sympathetic nervous system and the lower portion of your body — below your nipples — takes on the job often causing a great deal of sympathetic activity (sweating) on your chest, lower back, butt, legs, feet, etc.  Another side-effect is that your palms are extremely dry.  I’m detailing this (and could get even more detailed if I didn’t want to put some of your to sleep with the length of this message) because this procedure is not a good option unless you’re COMPLETELY aware of the risks and do some thorough investigation.  The Dr’s Web sites are not good sources for unbiased information.  They’re making big bucks off this relatively new procedure and won’t tell you about the small group of patients who have ended up with disasterous results.

I was lucky… the procedure has worked very well.  I would have rated by facial blushing/sweating/general redness to be about 8.5 on a scale of 1-10.  Not an hour would go by without my obsessing over the problem.  Few days would go by without somebody calling attention to my problem.  Triggers were the normal rosacea variety… spicy food, alcohol, hot rooms, coming in from the cold, etc…  if you’ve read this far you’re aware of the stuff I’m talking about.

Although I was diagnosed with Rosacea in 1993, I was so disappointed with the treatment options (or lack thereof) that I continued to look elsewhere for help.  Finding a good soap gave me way better results than MetroGel, and taking oral medications was not going to be acceptable to me.  This ETS surgury, which I saw as a way of curing all of my blushing/flushing/redness, seemed to be worth the considerable risk that goes along with it (again – don’t let any doctor tell you otherwise).

Post-Surgery…

I don’t have that rush of blood to my face when somebody says something embarrassing.  That’s about it.  Alcohol still gets my cheeks and neck flushed most all the time.  Going from a really cold area into the heat (best example is coming into a ski lodge after a day of swimming) will guarantee a red face (plus I don’t sweat or have any really effective way of cooling my face off after it’s gotten red).  I will say that in general, my face isn’t as red as what it was like before surgury.  However, it’s MUCH dryer.  I used to use Dove soap.  That’s way too strong for me now.  Cetaphil seems to work the best.  My scalp is also very dry.  Only a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner prevent me from flaking all over the place.  I put hand lotion on in the morning, at night, and after I wash my hands during the day.  I’m used to that now but it was irritating as hell when I first started.  My feet sweat like crazy – way more than before the surgery.  However, Botox injections (search the Web for that too) have reduced that problem to a comfortable level (but cost about $2000 annually).  Prior to ETS surgery, if I was guaranteed the result I ended up with, I would do it.  I’m better off having had the surgery.  However, there are some incredibly tragic stories related to ETS gone bad, and I have not been able to recommend the procedure to my brother (who has rosacea-induced flushing/blushing/redness symptons as bad or worse than me) because I would take my own life if I ruined his by convincing him to try this risky procedure.

After having had the surgery, I’m more convinced than ever that I have Rosacea.  Spicy foods are still a killer.  Alcohol still causes my skin to turn red.  A day at the beach still has the aftermath you’re all experiencing.  Going from a cold room into the heat still causes me to flush.

The most encouraging thing I’ve seen in quite some time is the PhotoDerm procedure.  From the research I’ve done it appears to be the most promising thing out there for people like us.  I have no idea how long the effects can last, nor do I have the slightest clue what the average response is to 4-5 Photoderm treatments.  The downside risk seems minimal enough to give it a shot, although it’s not cheap (about $3000 for my face, neck and upper chest).  I’d really appreciate any feedback you have regarding the Photoderm procedure.

Sorry for making you read so much… I’m new to this AWESOME forum and like the rest of you I’ve got years of experience and opinions regarding this curse for which I have absolutely no tolerance.  If I had the choice between 15 million dollars cash or a cure to facial redness and flushing I’d pick the cure every time.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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6 Reader Comments

  1. joe says:

    do u still blush? how r u now?

  2. j says:

    Im wondering the same thing. Are you still satisfied with the results from having the ETSprocedure done?

  3. M says:

    Good post! Im also wondering how you are doing now.. not sure if you had it done in 1999 or 2008 but it would still be nice to know if you are still satisfied with the results. Is your blushing totally gone still?

  4. Jasmine 215 says:

    Hi blzucker,

    Having suffered with Type 1 Rosacea and seb dermatitis since 1987, I know what you’re going through. I never had any flushing or blushing as a child or teen-ager, but 15 years into this disease, it did hit me pretty hard. I was evaluated for the surgery in about 2005 and the thoracic surgeon who did the procedure said I was NOT a candidate “You wouldn’t like the side effects.” So, I took him at his word and have been treating with Zenmed cleansers, Aveeno Ultra-Calming, tetracyclines for 10 years (to which I am now PANALLERGIC), Erythromycin, Accutane, you-name-it, Lysine tablets, flaxseed oil capsules and liquid, topicals like Noritate, Desowen, Locoid, the list goes on and on. I know I must have spent about $500,000 to $1,000,000 total to help cure this. (No cure though!) The only things that have helped me in the long run are the laser treatments (IPL, Sciton BBL, Candela V-Beam, etc). they work the best, along with oral prednisone and a few other things most derms won’t consider giving me (too risky, or so they think).

    It’s too bad most people don’t think skin diseases need to be cured. Because if they were suffering from these things themselves and had severe changes in their quality of life, it would be different! (I’ve heard it said “The money is in the MEDICINE, not the CURE!) VERY TRUE in the field of Dermatology.

  5. Hates the colour red!! says:

    Dear Jasmine 215,

    May i ask how your skin is now?

    really sounds like you have tried everything so i was just wondering.

  6. Jasmine 215 says:

    Hi,
    Well, most of the time it’s pretty clear. But if the weather changes from cold to hot, or if the humidity drops a large amount, I will flush again! I mostly have seb dermatitis now and I try to keep it under control with lysine tablets, erythromycin and ketoconazole. NOTHING works like the tetracyclines used to.

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