Cold (cryo) therapy has been around since the late 70’s and I wanted to know how cryotherapy benefits the body. It’s come a long way since inception and is used for far more than its original purpose. If you’ve been to a dermatologist’s office, they have what looks like a spray can full of liquid nitrogen sitting on their desk. They’re ready to reach over and burn off anything at first mention of a bump. I still have a little scar from one of those cans that I vividly remember getting as a kid. “This won’t hurt a bit”, I was told (eye roll)!
Nowadays, you can treat your whole body to a cryo session at a spa or you can spot-treat areas of your body where you want to kill fat cells. If you ask me, freezing my whole body sounds very similar to being thrown into a meat locker in Jersey by Tony Soprano. That said, I want to remain open to possibilities.
Cryotherapy for Lesions
Cryotherapy can be used on the surface of the skin to eliminate skin lesions (the “can”). Using extreme cold from liquid nitrogen (-320℉), skin growths and patches can be quickly removed. Types of lesions may include warts, seborrheic keratosis (age spots), and actinic keratoses (sun damage). After the procedure, there may be some redness during the 2 week recovery; a few people have had discoloration for up to 1 year. This treatment has a high rate of success for the permanent removal of warts and skin tags.
Aesthetics and Relaxation
Cryotherapy can be used to relax your body and tighten skin. A cryotherapy facial involves exposing your entire face to very cold nitrogen vapors. This process does not actually freeze your skin; instead, it cools your skin to very low temperatures to help tighten pores and reduce inflammation. For a less expensive option you can read a previous post where I discuss skin care routines with ice and jade rollers.
The medical term for using cryotherapy to target and kill fat cells is cryolipolysis. Fat cells are highly susceptible to damage from cold temperature. This non-invasive procedure is called cool-sculpting and it injures fat cells letting your body naturally remove them over time. It is best used for localized fat bulges that persist despite regular exercise. Using this therapy, a fatty bulge can be reduced by 20% over 4-6 months. You can literally freeze your ass off with cryotherapy!
How Cryotherapy Benefits the Body
Over the last 10 years, whole-body cryotherapy has become a thing. This therapy uses liquid nitrogen to make a very cold, dry vapor. In sports, it is well known that applying ice and taking an ice bath reduces inflammation and muscle pain. Ice is just below 32 degrees F. Whole-body cryotherapy takes this logic even further by reducing the temperature to -200 degrees F. The theory is that it should also reduce inflammation, and more (see below), but has not been medically proven.
Let’s be clear here, whole-body cryotherapy is considered more of a spa treatment than a medical treatment. The FDA has not cleared this type of cryotherapy for the treatment of any specific medical condition.
Everything needs to be fact-checked. As a result, there are a lot of unproven claims swirling around about how cryotherapy benefits the body. Here are some of those claims of how cryotherapy benefits the body:
Reduces stress and anxiety – Improves overall circulation – Improves overall circulation – Reduces cellulite – Improves overall circulation – Removes toxins – Helps with weight loss by burning calories – Oxygenates cells – Releases endorphins – Strengthens blood vessels – Offers pain relief from arthritis and other issues – Helps you recover from surgery faster – Reduces micro-tears in muscle tissue – Immune system stimulant – Improves skin disorders – Rejuvenates the skin – Gives you increased energy – Improves sleep – Helps with asthma – Improves energy around sex
If cryotherapy can do all of that then please sign me up! In reality, I am interested in learning more about cool-sculpting and will be posting more in-depth information about that later. Stay tuned…