With this winter weather, I’m sure the last thing you want to read about is a skincare trend that involves freezing temperatures!
I’m talking about cryotherapy – the process of using really low temperatures for therapeutic purposes.
It’s touted by professional athletes and celebrities to help with muscle soreness, provide energy, and tighten skin, and the general public has caught on.
But is this popular trend safe?
And can it really improve the look of your skin?
What’s the science behind it?
Keep on reading to find out!
What is Cryotherapy?
Fun fact: “cryo-” comes from the Greek word “krous,” which can mean “cold,” “icy,” or “frost.”
Cryotherapy can be defined as using liquid nitrogen (AKA cryogenically-cooled air) or even just sitting in an ice bath.
There are even walk-in cold chambers for whole body treatment, which originated in Japan in the late 1970s.
It involves having liquid nitrogen sprayed into the air to bring skin temperatures down to -200ºF.
The reported benefits are:
- Releases endorphins
- Enhances circulation
- Decreases inflammation
- Stimulates cellular regeneration
Overall, cryotherapy is used for the daily management of pain, inflammation, energy, and stress.
Some people claim that whole body cryotherapy (WBC) can shed body weight and even be labeled as a weight loss trend; however, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this.
What is a Cryofacial?
A cryofacial involves blasting cold vapors from liquid nitrogen onto the skin.
The treatment lasts less than 10 minutes because the skin reacts very quickly to the low temperatures.
It’s either performed on its own or at the end of a traditional facial.
Benefits of a cryofacial include:
- Increases collagen production
- Reduces inflammation
- Tightens skin
- Helps with sinusitis and headaches
These benefits are said to slow down signs of aging.
The effects usually last 1-2 days after the first treatment, and 3-5 treatments are usually recommended.
What is Cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery is performed on skin conditions using liquid nitrogen that has a temperature between -346 and -320°F.
It instantly freezes any tissue that’s come in contact with it and is typically used for skin tags, moles, precancerous lesions, and even prostate cancer.
What Does the FDA Say About Cryotherapy?
Unfortunately, a salon worker was found dead after deciding to spend time in a WBC chamber unsupervised after her work shift.
That’s not to scare you, but to serve as a warning that cryotherapy can be serious stuff!
The FDA has not cleared or approved WBC devices for medical treatment of any specific medical conditions.
According to an article in the National Library of Medicine, there’s weak evidence that WBC helps inflammation and muscle soreness after sports recovery.
Until further research is available, doctors suggest using ice pack application or cold water immersion.
There just hasn’t been enough scientific studies about WBC yet, and more needs to be done before making unproven claims.
Our society is placing more emphasis on a healthy lifestyle (which is a good thing!).
However, this also means that many trends that claim “health benefits” on the Internet are misleading and/or unsubstantiated.
I’m not a physician, so I can’t determine whether cryotherapy will be beneficial for you or not – I just wanted to present you with the cold, hard facts!
As always, do your research and ask your medical practitioner if cryotherapy would be right for you.
I’m all for improving the look and feel of your skin, but not at the risk of your health.
Beauties, have you ever tried cryotherapy? Did you love it or hate it? Share your stories in the comments!