July 29, 2021 – Odalis Santos Mena, a 23-year-old social media influencer, athlete, bodybuilder and fitness competitor, recently died of cardiac arrest while receiving treatment for armpits sweating.
The condition known as armpit hyperhidrosis was treated in a “wellness center” in Mexico. Mena should undergo miraDry treatment, which, while expensive, is known to be safe and effective.
“Ideally, you’re heating up and destroying the sweat glands and armpits,” says Adam Friedman, MD, professor and professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “So essentially you are removing the source of the problem, which is the current sweat glands.”
Mena’s death has been linked to anesthesia administered by someone who was not a trained anesthetist and a drug reaction between that anesthesia and the drugs and supplements she used, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
MiraDry is an FDA cleared handheld medical device. It is used as a non-surgical under the arms procedure to be performed under local anesthesia, usually only numbing the armpit area, not “general” or “full” anesthesia which places a person in a sleep-like, unconscious state. MiraDry is intended for use by trained, licensed healthcare professionals only.
In Mena’s case, the problem was not the treatment but the apparent lack of communication between doctor and patient.
“I think it’s definitely important to take, so someone who knows it well and thinks broadly about everything you need to know about the person before the anesthesia is given is really important,” says Friedman. “I don’t know exactly where the lost communication occurred, but that shouldn’t have happened.”
There are many types of anesthesia and they are considered safe when used correctly. Anesthesiologist Christopher Troianos, MD, told the Cleveland Clinic that anesthesia is now safer because of advances in medicine and technology.
“In the 1960s and 1970s, it was not uncommon for 1 in 10,000 or 20,000 patients to die from anesthesia,” he said. “Now it’s more like one in 200,000 patients – it’s very rare.”