I had a dangerous surgery when I was 16 to stop excessive facial blushing, and it ruined my life. After decades, I can’t feel emotions.

Shot of John Larsen drinking coffee

John Larsen after facial blushing surgery.Courtesy of John Larsen

  • As a child, he blushed a lot and had sweaty palms — more than the average teenager.

  • At the age of sixteen, he underwent endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy to correct excessive facial flushing.

  • He is now 40 years old and still suffers from the side effects of the surgery. He cannot feel emotions.

This article is based on a conversation with John Larsen. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Growing upI was outgoing and enjoyed being in front of people, but as I reached adolescence, I became more aware of the problem.

I will turn beet red in embarrassing situations.

When I was a teenager, that was problematic and restrictive. I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do: feel comfortable approaching a girl, speak in front of the class, or do drama. I’ll go crimson every time.

I also had excessive palm sweating. These things together made me feel more self-conscious than your typical teenager. I I felt depressed.

To make matters worse, other kids at school notice and comment: “Oh my God, you’re so red. What’s wrong with you?”

I tried beta blockers first

Initially, my doctor prescribed me beta blockers. They slow the heart rate and can reduce facial flushing. They worked for a while, but I wasn’t keen on taking birth control pills for the rest of my life which I could have done Side effects.

That’s when I first read about endoscopic thoracic sympathectomies.

Surgery is often sought for relief Excessive sweating (Usually from the palm of the hand), but sometimes it is used for facial redness. I thought it would be nice to deal with my uncomfortably sweaty palms. But the main reason was facial redness. I just wanted him to stop holding me back. I convinced my mother to go with me to counseling. I was 15 years old.

I said my country Primary care physician About the ETS surgery, and they looked into it for me. They referred me to a dermatologist who evaluated the problems caused by facial redness and sweating. Then I was referred to a specialist surgeon who deals specifically with the thoracic area of ​​the body.

My mother was a little cautious and worried. But from what we’ve been reading, the procedure appears to be safe. No mother wants to see her child suffer. She was supportive based on the information we learned from the doctor and our reading.

The surgeon dismissed the side effects as if they were nothing to worry about. He briefly mentioned that I might feel some excessive sweating in other parts of my body. That was about it.

By the time I had surgery, I was 16 years old Empty the lungs one by oneThen part of the sympathetic nerve trunk in the thoracic area is destroyed, disrupting the nerve messages that give signals to the brain about emotional reactions, environmental changes such as temperature, and stimuli including fight or flight.

The side effects have persisted for decades

The surgery took less than an hour, and it changed my whole life. I am now 40 years old and still have strange side effects, none of which were previously disclosed.

In fairness, my hands are now mostly dry. The facial redness initially improved, although it did not completely resolve. At the time, I was shocked by it. I wanted my life back. It will be the least of my worries.

The side effects of the ETS surgery were brutal for life.

I learned that, for some, cutting the sympathetic nerve reduces their responses to strong emotions, such as fear or laughter. I am now a robot in my emotional states. There is a constant fog. I feel disconnected. It was ETS. Compared to modern-day lobotomy By some who have suffered similar Side effects gay.

I feel robbed of my deepest feelings. But I know I’m missing something. It’s often pointed out by those around me.

There are other barbaric side effects, such as thermoregulation. I have varying body temperatures occurring simultaneously. It’s a never-ending battle. There are bed stains from how old I am Sweat at night – Especially on my neck, back and chest. This happens even when it’s cold.

I was also left with Low blood pressureWhich affects the heart rate. It created some very unpleasant situations, especially in my early 20s. His resting heart rate was equal to that of a professional athlete. I would wake up feeling like I was going to die, with terrible palpitations. My heart would skip a beat. I spent a lot of time feeling afraid. It took some time for that to improve.

I’ve spoken with primary care doctors over the years, but their knowledge of my condition is limited and there are no practical ways to alleviate these side effects. I have also seen specialists like Cardiologists. But I remain largely in the dark and still struggle.

I’ve had to live with the decision I made ignorantly as a teenager my whole life. I’m not completely disturbed, but I’m incomplete.

Now I realize that the facial flushing I experienced as a teenager was the least of my problems. I wanted everything fixed, but some things don’t need to be fixed. It’s about accepting yourself.

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(Tags for translation) Facial redness

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