Microwave Energy as a Thermal Treatment Modality

Microwave energy has been under investigation for decades as a modality for medical treatment. Early conceptual work for microwave-based thermal therapy has been reported as early as the 1930s and practical hardware development and experimentation in this area began as early as 1946. Since this early work, research has been extensive and technology has been developed as early as the 1980s for use in medical fields such as oncology, urology, cardiology, and general surgery. However, despite this work, microwave technology is less familiar to the medical community than other modalities such as lasers, radio frequency (RF), and ultrasound devices.

Maximum elimination of sweat glands under the arms

Miramar Labs is the first company to gain FDA clearance to use microwave energy with miraDry to combat excessive underarm sweating and odour. The main design goal for the miraDry device was to achieve an optimal heating effect in the targeted sweat glands.

There is an extremely dense network of sweat glands in the axillae (>50,000), and their depth can vary from 2 to 5 mm below the skin surface, depending on the patient’s skin thickness. The microwave energy is concentrated along the dermal–adipose, creating a focal energy zone.

MiraDry uses a non-invasive handheld device to deliver precisely controlled microwave energy beneath the underarm skin to the specific area where sweat glands are located, resulting in thermolysis of the sweat glands. While the sweat glands are being eliminated, the top layers of the skin are simultaneously cooled and protected.

Human histology illustrates sweat gland destruction

Normal sweat glands



Sweat gland cells devoid of nuclei – complete cellular necrosis


10 days post-treatment

No sweat glands


6 months post-treatment

The ontogenesis of sweat glands is only at the embryonic period, so no new sweat glands are regenerated after birth.1 Therefore, miraDry results are permanent.

1 Reference: LiH-H, ZhouG, FuX-B, ZhangLei. Antigen expression of human sweat glands. J Cutan Pathol 2009; 36:318–24.

Research and Studies

Because the microwaves preferentially target the region of skin where the sweat glands reside, patients can benefit from permanent targeted sweat reduction. The miraDry treatment has been proven, in multiple rigorously controlled studies and in over 55,000 commercial treatments in U.S.A., to deliver excellent efficacy, a strong safety profile, and high patient satisfaction. Future applications of this technology could conceivably include treatment of the hands, soles of the feet and other areas where people suffer from sweating, leading to a very high satisfaction rate.