Recently there’s been a barrage of new aesthetic treatments that use heat to make positive changes in our face & neck skin. Let’s switch gears and talk about a new treatment where extreme cold can improve the texture of all your skin, all over your body too!
I’m talking about Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC).
I say that WBC is new because, as with many aesthetic treatments, this treatment was first used for medical indications, such as sports injuries, arthritis, and even depression, but we’re only just now discovering the degree of it’s aesthetic benefits.
What is Whole Body Cryotherapy?
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is a procedure to immerse your body in subzero temperatures. Why would anyone do this you ask? Because of the biological changes that happen within your body when you do.
You’d be amazed but the clinical research has shown that certain biological processes can be prompted just by mere cold. Well, not just mere cold, more like never-experienced-on-earth cold. To the tune of – 200°F to – 270°F cold.
The coldest temperature to ever be recorded on earth was in 2013 in Antartica at -135.5°F. Now just imagine -140° colder than that!
If your first thought is that if you wanted to freeze your ass off, you’d hit Mount Everest and get a view too, just hear me out.
Temperatures between – 200°F and – 270°F, for a duration of 2 to 4 minutes have been clinically proven to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Speed up post-surgical healing
- Manage pain
- Increase mobility
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Relieve tendonitis & arthritis
- Assist in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
- Alleviate depression
- Increase your energy
- Increase your physical performance (athletes love this treatment)
This treatment is even used to treat the symptoms of muscular dystrophy. All very interesting but what’s it doing in my beauty blog?
Aesthetic Benefits of Whole Body Cryotherapy
I’m writing about cryotherapy because of something that happened at a family gathering last week. Once a year, we have this family gathering. The same people always attend so you get to see the aging process at work.
I mean, after a certain age, and it varies for each of us, shit just starts to fall apart, am I wrong?
This year I was thrilled to see that a close family friend is seemingly aging backwards! She must be at least a decade older than me and standing next to her I couldn’t help but notice that her chest, neck and arm skin looked a decade younger than mine!
It’s the first year that I’ve noticed this very disturbing fact, so either I’m deteriorating at an astounding rate or she’s doing something right, so I asked.
It turns out that she’s been doing Whole Body Cryotherapy. I had read about it and had it in my backlog of treatments to try but I decided, at that very moment, to move it to the top of my list. And here we are today.
Upon research (at the crack of dawn the next morning), on top of all of that medical happiness, there were some interesting aesthetic benefits too. Such as:
- Minimization of scars and acne
- Reduction of puffiness
- Increased metabolism
- Reduce the appearance of cellulite
- Increased elasticity in your skin
- Healthier, stronger hair.
Sounds all good and well, and I saw what it did for my friend, but you know me – I had to know science of it.
The Science of Whole Body Cryotherapy
I don’t, and I never expect you to, accept any sort of claim without knowing the science behind it. This helps you weed out what’s hype from what really helps, and save time and money in the process.
So let’s talk about exactly what happens to your body when subjected to intense, life threatening, cold.
Fight or Flight
What Adrenaline Does
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, dilates your air passages and contracts your blood vessels. Your capillaries expand up to four times their size allowing your white blood cells to access injuries up to 50 times faster than the norm.
This helps aid the healing process and recovery of post workout muscle strain. Cryotherapy is catching on in the sports community with top athletes like Devin Harris of the Dallas Mavericks.
Adrenaline also detoxes your body by flushing out toxins, which strengthens your immune system, helping to reduce free radical damage (which is largely responsible for aging) and improve your skin and the growth of healthier hair.
What Endorphins Do
The release of Endorphins, basically our bodies natural morphine, do a whole load of yummy things for us like:
- Block pain
- Induce feelings of pleasure
- Increase our libidos
- Fight depression
- Helps us deal with stress
The release of endorphins are why many mental health care practices utilize cryotherapy in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.
Stimulates the Production of Collagen
Cryotherapy isn’t the same as applying ice to your skin. If you do that for a while the cold will freeze your skin and damage it. In cryotherapy, the cold air penetrates your skin 1/2 millimeter deep so the outer skin endures no damage.
The deeper layers, on the other hand, experience what we call ‘controlled damage’ which has been proven to stimulate the production of collagen. Essentially what happens is that when our tissue is damaged the brain goes into survival mode, producing more collagen to protect the area.
Collagen is like the glue of our body, it keeps everything together and any possible breach puts our brain on alert, doing whatever it can to repair itself. And it sends more than we need.
Not to be simplistic but it’s kind of like on Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen may have 100 guards protecting her perimeter at any time. But if they are attacked and lose 5, you better believe she’s going to send 50 to breach that gap and the whole area around it. Same thing.
Collagen, along with elastin, is what makes our skin tight. For example, the difference, visually, between an old person and a young person, is the lack of collagen.
Actually, collagen is what holds our body together. It’s in our muscles, bones, tendons and skin and as we age, we produce less of it. And eventually we stop producing it at all, and start losing it at about 1% per year!
Oh, happy times.
When our skin is tighter, we look younger, our cellulite is less visible and the world is a happier place.
Increases our Metabolic Rate
During the 2 to 4 minute treatment, your body works hard to stay at 98.6°F. So hard that your metabolism kicks up it’s pace. This effect lasts for 6 to 8 hours after the treatment and burns anywhere from 500 to 800 calories. Don’t get too excited though because it also tends to boost up your appetite.
So maybe just consider it worth a free Twinkie.
Yesterday we had a good sized lunch at around 2:00. Our treatment was at 4:00 and by 4:55 we were standing outside waiting for the Marigold Maison Indian restaurant to open – we were STARVING.
How it Goes Down
Mr. BeautyBlackBook and I had our first experience with cryotherapy at Scottsdale Cryotherapy where Angelo held our hands and walked us through it. I say ‘first’ because we liked it so much we bought a pack of 20!
Here’s a video of the full 3 minute treatment from start to finish, but I’ll go into more detail underneath.
I, for one, was very nervous. What if I panicked or hyperventilated or something? Angelo said this was normal and was really cool about explaining what would go down before it actually did.
The Cryopod fits one person at a time. As a woman I was able to go in with nothing on but socks, slippers and mittens. Men, on the other hand, have to protect their private parts with shorts. I guess I can understand why…
When I first stepped into the Cryopod, Angelo kept me distracted by having me turn this way and that way, tilt my head to one shoulder then the next, to stand on my toes, bend my knees and such.
At first it felt like being in the snow without the right gear. After about 10 seconds shit got real. It’s such an odd sensation it’s hard to describe. To say that my skin was tingly is an understatement. Let’s just say it was tingly 2 .
The pod gets cold with nitrogen, which if you breath you can pass out so every time I ducked my head down I had to hold my breath. One 100 seconds and – 195°F in, you’d be amazed how difficult something like controlling your breathing can become.
Directly after the treatment, my body felt tingly and I felt this overwhelming urge to laugh. My body warmed up pretty fast. Mr. BBB’s treatment got colder than mine and Angelo had him exercise a bit to warm up and stretch his muscles.
Mr. BBB said his muscles felt less rigid and he was able to stretch his hands in ways he hasn’t been able to in a while. Due to an injury, his right hand is not normally able to stretch like this.
Then we both got really hungry. Cryotherapy can increase your appetite and it sure did. We had a good sized lunch at 2:00, had our cryotherapy at 3:45 or 4:00 and by 4:55 we were waiting outside Marigold Maison ready to ciao down on some Indian food.
Although I know that I was burning 500 to 800 calories, I didn’t come close to what I ate that night. And these were just appetizers.
Cost of WBC
It’s surprisingly affordable at $65 for $75 per treatment and a discount when you buy a package for more. You can do cryotherapy every day if you want but I’m sticking to once a week or so. Mr. BeautyBlackBook is doing it more often as a therapy for tight, rigid muscles.
To Sum It Up
We went back for another cryotherapy treatment today. We knew what to expect and we LOVED it! I’m not going to lie and say that my skin got tighter yet, but my cheeks are rosier for several hours like after an amazing workout.
Either way, I love it. It makes me happy! I’m smiling for no reason and life is good so I’m making this part of my beauty regimen! Stay tuned, I’m going to give away a treatment to a lucky winner soon!