Ice Ice Baby : The low down on Cryotherapy
What is the first thing you do when you sustain a mild injury? Of course – an ice pack. For decades we’ve know instinctively that that something about ice makes us feel better when we are in pain. This is most simple form of a therapy that has gained popularity in the last few years – cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy comes from two Greek works – cryo meaning cold and therapy, which was the Greek way of describing a cure. It has been used as far back as the seventeenth century to treat tissue damage to avoid brain damage in people with severe fevers. If you are using cold temperatures to treat your body in any way – you are using cryotherapy. The reason cryotherapy is so successful is that it temporarily decreases cell growth and reproduction which in turn increases cellular survival, decreases inflammation, pain and spasms. Cryotherapy promotes the constriction of blood vessels and can even, at extreme temperatures, destroy cells completely by crystallizing the liquid found inside the cells (this is what a doctor or dermatologist uses when they freeze of a wart, mole or skintag). Cryotherapy is used every day to treat minor sprains and bruises and has been show to help decrease the severity of headaches and migraines.
In more recent times cryotherapy has gone more mainstream, particularly in the treatment of sports injuries and chronic illness. Whole body cryotherapy is the new ice-bath. The body is exposed – in a controlled environment to extremely cold dry air (-100 degree celcius), for a short period of time – usually less than five minutes. This is either done with liquid nitrogen or refrigerated cold air. Sometimes the extremities are covered to avoid any risk of frostbite. While the Japanese have been using these since the 1970s, Australia has only had whole body cryotherapy chambers in the last decade. It is a precise science that requires careful use and so it limited to a clinical setting in Australia, usually to treat patients with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, given the way the therapy helps curb inflammation. Some sports scientists have hand held versions which can be used on sports injuries without the issue of discomfort that comes with an ice-pack. Cryo cools down the area more deeply, more quickly. Several NBA basketball teams have introduced cryo chambers as a part of recovery process for their players. The process has been shown to relieve soreness but also to stimulate the autonomic nervous system (your breathing, heartbeat and digestive systems).
Cryotherapy and your skin
This sort of technology has obvious benefits for your skin and you don’t need to go all the way to -100 degrees to see a difference. Cold has been used by cosmetic surgeons to freeze and destroy fat cells instead of the traditional, and far more invasive method of liposuction. Another new treatment known as cryoneuromodulation uses extremely cold needles to relax facial muscles, which can be used to treat everything from wrinkles to headaches. Cryo is also being used in the treatment of painful varicose veins, cooling the skin and veins to make sclerotherapy quicker and more effective.
And it works on a low-tech level as well. Using ice or frozen tea bags around the eye area has long been a folk remedy for bags under the eyes. Why? Because it works. The cold makes the blood vessels constrict but also stimulate lymphatic drainage, circulation and boosts collagen production. So simple – so effective. Kate Moss has claimed that an important part of her beauty regime is plunging her face into an ice-cold bowl of water and cucumber slices in the morning. This simple cryotherapy will immediately shock your skin into action – everything down to a cellular level stops – and then restarts with a boost. Inflammation ceases, blood vessels constrict and then reopen, cells boost collagen production and the extra circulation drains excess white blood cells and replaces them with fresh red ones. Essentially she shocks her skin into working harder – non-invasively and refreshingly. The skin is also more receptive to any skin care products put on it after this process.
One step further is cryo-skincare – skincare that is designed to be applied in a frozen state. The cold stimulates the skin into action and the ingredients in the skincare are able to work with your own cells, which are now springing into action. Just like the warming masks that open pores and allow the product to draw out the dirt, makeup and impurities on your skin – these cryo skincare products do the opposite tightening, toning and stimulating.
Vanessa Megan’s world first product the Cryo Facelift ™Ice Cube Treatment is just such a product. Designed to delivered frozen, we have chosen ingredients that work perfectly with your skin’s response to the cold. The formulation is packed with active ingredients – one that actual change the way your cells work - in particular certified organic, scientifically proven, anti-ageing extract Narcissus Tazetta Bulb andHyaluronic acid. These work with your cells to help combat wrinkles, puffiness and dehydration and to repair and regenerate the skin. It is like giving your skin and extra night’s sleep.
That old “bag of frozen peas” treatment your mum used to hand you when you sprained your ankle, has come a long way, but at its heart cryotherapy still has a lot in common with the ice-pack. Cooling your body and skin, quickly and deeply, helps you to heal and whichever way you try some cryotherapy - a blast of -100 degree air, an ice-bath or a luxury skincare moment – your cells will thank you.