Carboxy therapy uses natural carbon dioxide gas to help improve the appearance of stretch marks, scars and cellulite.
It has been used by the medical community in Europe for over 60 years, having been investigated in France in the 1950s by a group of cardiologists (heart specialists) who used the therapy to treat patients with various illnesses caused by blood circulation and fat accumulation problems in their arteries.
Subsequently the therapy was applied to women with cellulite problems, where circulation is known to be sluggish, and is now widely used for a variety of other aesthetic indications in Europe, and North and South America.
Every time we breathe in oxygen to our lungs the oxygen is picked up by the red blood cells that are in the tiny blood vessels within our lungs. As the heart beats it forces these blood cells into the arteries and on a journey around the body to where they’re needed. When they encounter an area with high levels of carbon dioxide, which has been created by the hard work or cellular metabolism of some particular cells, the red blood cells drop their oxygen molecules to ‘feed’ these cells and picks up the carbon dioxide that they have produced. They then carry the carbon dioxide back to the lungs and we exhale to get rid of it. We then breathe in more oxygen and the whole process starts again.
Imperfections on our bodies such as dark under-eye circles, scarring and cellulite are thought to be caused, in part, by the poor circulation of blood to those areas, and therefore a poor supply of oxygen. Carboxytherapy is said to work simply by tricking the body, as by injecting a small amount of carbon dioxide gas into the area, it will increase the dispatch of oxygen laden red blood cells to the area to pick up the new ‘waste’ carbon dioxide which the body will then naturally eliminate via the lungs over time. By increasing the amount of oxygen getting to the area the cells will become more active and thus speed up any healing or new cell production required to rejuvenate the area.
During your first consultation with us, a medical history will be taken, to ensure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t have the treatment, and you would normally be asked to sign a consent form at this time which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with carboxytherapy.
There are several machines that are used to administer the carbon dioxide gas, but the basic components are the same. There is a tank of carbon dioxide gas that is connected by plastic tubing to a flow-regulator. The flow-regulator slows down the speed of the gas according to the rate selected by the physician. The gas emerges from the flow-regulator into sterile tubing that has a filter connected at the exit to remove any trace impurities before the gas is run through a tiny needle attached to the opposite side of the filter. The pure gas is now ready to be injected beneath the skin via the tiny needle.
Because of differences in the techniques used to treat the eyelids, stretch-marks, scars, and fat deposits, the sensation is slightly different depending upon what is actually being treated, and a numbing cream can be used prior to treatment if required.
The treatment of stretch-marks and scars is relatively painless because this skin doesn’t have the same ability to sense pain. Some pressure from the gas may be felt as the stretch-marks are distended, and they can feel a bit itchy, but again this subsides in about five minutes once the gas is absorbed by the body. Scars generally feel no pain because there are no nerves in scar tissue.
The treatment of cellulite and fatty deposits on the arms, abdomen, and legs has a unique sensation of its own. This is because a larger amount of the gas is injected directly into the offending fat deposits and allowed to expand. While the gas is expanding, you may feel some pressure in the area being treated that feels similar to when the arm is squeezed by a blood pressure cuff. The areas will feel warm and tingly for up to 24 hours after the treatment as the circulation to the area is improved.The average carboxytherapy treatment takes approximately fifteen to thirty minutes to complete and depends upon the area and the severity of the problem being treated.
Stretch marks (known medically as striae) respond better to treatment when they are most recent and still red in colour, rather than when older and of a more faded, silvery appearance. Newer striae will most likely require to be treated once a week for 2 – 4 weeks, although in some cases a single session is enough, depending on their severity. Older stretch marks will need 3 – 12 treatment sessions at 3 – 4 weekly intervals.
In the case of cellulite reduction, the introduction of the CO2 under the skin is combined with manual massage to help evenly distribute the gas and make it circulate within the tissues. When it comes into contact with the fat cells, it can stimulate a metabolic reaction or fat burning mechanism within the body. The vasodilatory effect in the small blood vessels surrounding the fat cells increases the amount of oxygen and blood flow to the area which eliminates the build up of fluids and toxins between the cells causing lymphatic drainage, and also improves the elasticity of the deeper skin areas by stimulating the production of new collagen, leading to a rejuvenation in the upper layers which reduces the tight, cottage cheese or orange peel look to the skin associated with cellulite.
As the blood circulation improves and the natural fat burning continues, the area becomes firmer over time with a reduced circumference, although multiple treatment sessions and top-up maintenance sessions every 6 months will be required.
There is no cure for cellulite or stretch marks, and, in our experience, many of the creams sold that claim to get rid of both of these problems do not work. Professional “in clinic” treatments will give you significant improvement – but you need to be realistic and understand that it is unlikely that they will disappear completely.
Most clients find that they can return to work and normal activities immediately after treatment.
Does it hurt and what could go wrong?
Treatment is generally fairly painless, although some people will feel a slight discomfort, pressure or stinging sensation as the gas is delivered to the tissues, sometimes described as a ‘crackling’ sensation, depending on the area treated. A topical anaesthetic can be applied to the skin if required.
Side effects include minor swelling, redness, bruising and pain at the injection sites lasting anywhere from 1 – 5 days, depending on the area treated, and in the case of cellulite treatment a warm sensation in the region for up to 24 hours. Bruising is common when treating the arms and legs, so carboxytherapy might not be a good idea if you plan on wearing a swimsuit the following week.
The risk of any scarring is very rare with this procedure.
As long as you are generally healthy and don’t have any skin diseases or infections in the area treated, there are few medical reasons why people can’t undergo this treatment.
Although there is no evidence that this treatment is harmful for pregnant women, you would generally be advised to wait until after you have given birth before embarking upon a course of treatment.
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