You’ve likely been aware that humans require oxygen to survive since your first elementary school science class, but what you might not be aware of is that breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber can boost your body’s healing capabilities on a profound level. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has become a popular treatment among patients suffering from serious health conditions as well as healthy individuals seeking an effective way to improve their mental and physical performance.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is particularly effective at treating the human body’s largest organ, the skin. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at how this innovative therapy taps into the body’s powers of self-healing to help repair skin tissue.
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an FDA-approved therapy where patients breathe normally inside of a pressurized chamber. Treatments are completely non-invasive. Each session can last between 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the condition being treated, and a full therapy regimen may consist of 20 to 60 total sessions. These are normally spread out over several weeks at a frequency of 3 to 5 treatment sessions per week.
During treatment, patients can watch a movie, listen to music, or close their eyes and take a nap. There is no recovery time required after treatment, so patients are able to return to their usual activities right away.
How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?
Oxygen is essential for the human body to thrive. Our brain cells begin to deteriorate and die if they are deprived of oxygen for a mere 3 to 4 minutes. Fortunately, the air in Earth’s atmosphere contains approximately 21% oxygen, enough to sustain not only human life but the multitude of living creatures on our diverse planet.
Now, imagine what would happen if you increase your capability of absorbing oxygen. This is exactly how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works. The air inside of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is pressurized to 3x the level in the air we normally breathe, and this allows more oxygen to diffuse into a patient’s blood plasma. This is important because oxygen is essentially the body’s fuel. More fuel means vital functions (such as energy production, tissue repair, and much more) can be carried out at a more efficient rate.
As a patient breathes the pressurized air inside of the chamber, their body’s processes of self-healing are provided with ample fuel. Oxygen can be transported 3x farther into damaged cells, which brings with it some tremendous health benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
There are numerous benefits associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It can be used to treat an array of acute and chronic conditions and boasts benefits for primarily healthy individuals as well. HBOT is used by many professional athletes as a regular treatment to improve their quality of sleep, enhance their physical performance, and sharpen their cognitive function.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an FDA-approved treatment for the following conditions:
- Decompression Sickness (The Bends)
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Cyanide Poisoning
- Clostridial Myonecrosis and Myositis (Gas Gangrene)
- Gas Embolism
- Severe Anemia
- Thermal Burns
- Osteomyelitis (Bone Infection)
- Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Disease)
- Soft Tissue Damage and Bone Necrosis Caused by Radiation
- Acute Traumatic Ischemias (Such As Crush Injury and Compartment Syndrome)
- Intracranial Abscesses (Brain Abscess)
- Select Non-Healing Wounds (Such As Diabetic Retinopathy or Diabetic Foot)
- Compromised Skin Flaps and/or Grafts
Doctors often prescribe hyperbaric oxygen therapy for off-label uses, as well. HBOT has shown promising results as a treatment for symptoms of Lyme Disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s Disease and certain types of cancer. Because HBOT increases the white blood cell count within a patient’s body, this therapy can be used to boost other treatments and speed up healing times, too. It is commonly used in conjunction with physical therapy.
How Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Used for Skin Healing Specifically?
Models and celebrities in many different industries have started using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for its skin rejuvenating benefits. It has been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as reduce signs of photoaging (premature skin aging caused by exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation).
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also used to treat several serious skin conditions. By increasing oxygen flow to damaged tissues, this therapy promotes healing. Severe skin conditions HBOT can help treat include:
Thermal Burns – Burns can be particularly difficult to treat, especially if they are 2nd or 3rd degree and cover a significant area of the body. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help minimize edema (water build-up in and around burnt tissues), protect microvasculature, and help fight off infection (which is a major concern for burn victims).
Necrotizing Fasciitis – Flesh-Eating Disease is a rare but often deadly bacterial skin infection that progresses rapidly once a host is infected. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help minimize tissue loss and the possibility of amputation associated with this condition. HBOT can also increase the effectiveness of certain antibiotics used to treat necrotizing fasciitis, which facilitates faster healing.
Compromised Skin Flaps and/or Grafts – Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help prepare certain patients to receive a skin graft and heal well. In certain cases, patients with a preexisting condition (such as diabetes) may have trouble receiving a skin graft, which can result in the new tissue becoming compromised. HBOT has been found to be an effective therapy when used in conjunction with a skin graft or as a preparatory therapy before the patient receives the graft. It promotes oxygen flow to the area of the graft and increases the success rate of the graft procedure.
Who Are the Ideal Candidates that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Help?
If you suffer from any of the conditions, or similar ailments, mentioned in this article, you may be a good candidate for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. You will need to check with your doctor before beginning this treatment and provide a full medical history so that your care provider can determine if this is the best therapy to meet your needs.
HBOT is not recommended for patients who have certain types of lung diseases, have recently had ear surgery, or recently suffered an ear trauma. In addition, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not recommended during pregnancy.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy? Book a consultation at Aspire Regenerative. Our clinicians will develop a care plan customized to help you reach your unique health and wellness goals.