If you’ve ever had a wart frozen off in a dermatologist’s office, you’ve seen the benefits of extreme cold in action. Cryosurgery is regularly used by dermatologists to rid the skin of lesions and abnormal growths by destroying the cells responsible for the lump. But over the last few years, extreme cold therapy has graduated from dermatological-only uses to beauty and wellness treatments. Athletes and beauty junkies alike are paying upwards of $75 for 2-5 minute sessions in a freezing cold sauna.
What is a cryosauna?
A cryosauna is a cold chamber that circulates very cold (below -200°F), very dry air around the body for a period of only a few minutes. While the first cryosauna was developed nearly 40 years ago in Japan as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, the therapy has only become popular in the U.S. in the last ten years.
What does it do?
Patients enter a cryosauna in only shorts and a sports bra along with gloves and socks to prevent extreme cold in the extremities. Within a short period, the temperature of the skin and muscles rapidly declines. The body goes into crisis mode, sending most of its blood into the core where it is enriched with oxygen and enzymes. After the treatment, the enriched blood goes back into the extremities where it improves circulation and is purported to flush out toxins. The treatment reduces inflammation and increases the body’s metabolic rate considerably.
What are the benefits?
Cryotherapy is commonly used as an ice bath alternative by athletes seeking to reduce muscle soreness, increase performance, and boost metabolism. However, cryotherapy also comes with serious skin benefits. Because the skin cools down to levels below 50°F during the treatment, inflammation is immediately decreased, alleviating inflammatory skin issues like psoriasis and dermatitis. The rapid cooling and subsequent reheating also activates skin’s collagen production, improving the appearance of sagging and aging skin while reducing the look of cellulite. Fans of the treatment also report feeling happier and more energetic after the treatments, probably due to a release of endorphins caused by the extreme temperature.
What are the risks?
Naturally, there is some risk of frostbite when using a cryosauna. However, these risks are relatively low as long as you are only in the sauna for 2-4 minutes. Long term effects of the treatment have not been thoroughly evaluated.
What do you think? Would you ever jump in a freezing chamber to reduce your psoriasis or improve your skin firmness? Sound off in the comments!