I was invited to try cryotherapy which uses nitrogen vapour and temperatures of up to -160°C to help with healing, inflammation and weight-control.
A little while ago I received an invitation to try cryotherapy at CryoLiving in Plumstead. I’ll be honest, when I heard that I needed to do a full body sculpting treatment with liquid nitrogen I thought “Hell no!” It sounded painful and downright scary. But then I got curious. Cryotherapy has been around for a while but locally it is only now starting to gain popularity as a beauty treatment. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Cryotherapy was introduced in 1980 in Japan by Dr. Yamauchi to treat rheumatoid arthritis patients. Today it is used to reduce pain, create an anti-inflammatory response and accelerate healing. It also works wonders to help you drop centimeters, which is the bit I was interested in. I did a combined treatment of cryotherapy followed by a Sleeksculpt massage. You can either opt for localised cryotherapy, where the therapist will run liquid nitrogen vapour over sections of your body, or climb into the sauna (or inverse sauna in this case).
The Cryotherapy part
On my first session I was still a little skittish of the whole thing so I opted for the localised cryotherapy treatment. This is definitely the more comfortable option. The therapist runs dry ice vapour over your skin, which feels a lot like getting a professional spray tan, and after a while your skin gets cold, firm and slightly prickly. On my second session my therapist twisted my arm to try the open-top cryogenic sauna, which is a lot more hectic but also a lot more effective. I’m not going to lie, this is not for sissies. It is a bit like going for a swim at Clifton Beach. The cryogenic sauna is filled with nitrogen vapour that envelops your entire body (your head sticks out at the top) and it gets crazy cold. I was geared with thick socks and gloves to protect my hands and feet and instructed to keep dancing in small circles. The temperature in the machine drops from between -120 and -160°C and after about two minutes I was maxed out. The longest time you are allowed in there is three minutes to avoid any damage, which is why you should always do this under the supervision of a qualified therapist. So it is a little hard core but you only have to endure it for two minutes. I found making small talk with my therapist really helped the time go by a little faster. Once that was done I was instructed to do two minutes on a spinning bike to get my circulation going again. For me this was a struggle on its own. Because your body temperature is so low your heart has to work extra hard to get all the blood to your skin again. It feels like those grueling first ten minutes in a spinning class. Apparently it is actually incredibly effective to do this treatment before your cardio workout (under supervision of course!), but I don’t think I am there yet. So that’s about 4 minutes of pain for your gain. Not too bad.
So why does this work?
When the temperature drops your body protects itself by redirecting blood flow towards your core. When you get out of the machine your blood vessels then dilate up to four times their normal diameter as your body tries to reheat itself. That means you get a significant increase in blood flow to your skin, enriching your cells with oxygen and enzymes. The treatment also stimulates an anti-inflammatory response, and it reduces oxidative stress by improving your body’s ability to eliminate free radicals, neutralize toxins and repair cell damage. Upon this it also increases your metabolism and as your body reheats you burn an additional 400 – 800 calories (1600 – 3300 kilojoules!).
The sleeksculpt part
The next part of the treatment is super easy. First I was lathered with some firming creams, twisted into cling wrap and then popped into giant massaging pants that look like something astronauts wear in outer space. This is called a BOA Compression Device and it works to improve your lymphatic drainage – in other words helping your lymphatic system get rid of all the toxins stuck in your body. The massage stimulates blood and lymph circulation, helping your body get rid of the junk and improving oxygen and nourishment to the tissue. Once you’re in the suit you can lie back and it does all the work, filling air chambers in a specific sequence from your ankles up to your abdomen. You’ll be there for about 40 minutes so I recommend taking some work or a book along. The other option is to have a facial done at the same time.
Did I see results?
Yes, it was absolutely worth it. After my first session with the localised cryotherapy I had lost 7 centimetres in total from my upper legs, bum, hips and stomach. By the end I had dropped a impressive 26 centimetres across this area. I saw the biggest difference after my first two treatments, but I continued to lose centimetres each week. I could also feel a difference in my body – my “love handles” and hips in particular felt a lot flatter, and I saw a slight improvement in the cellulite on my upper thighs. I can also say that diet and exercise played no part in the results. In fact, I had an indulgent few weeks while doing the treatments and didn’t exercise any more than I normally do. There is no down-time and I experienced no bruising or discomfort afterwards at all. I could pop in for an hour session in the morning and head straight to work after. However, I cannot stress enough that you need to go to someone who knows what they are doing. If the therapist does the treatment incorrectly you can burn your skin. In my case the therapists at CryoLiving did a brilliant job. They recommend a crash course of 6 treatments, which need to be done at least within a week of each other (you can do more than one in a week). From there you can go for one maintenance session per month if you feel it is necessary. Personally I think this is a great way to give your body a fresh start. I have quite bad circulation in general and I saw dramatic results. I only had my final treatment a week ago so I will need to see how long the results last if I don’t go for the maintenance sessions, but I do think my body benefited from it in a big way.
Total centimetres lost:
Upper waist: 3 cm
Lower waist: 3 cm
Hips: 8 cm
Buttocks: 4 cm
Left thigh: 4 cm
Right Thigh: 4 cm
What does it cost?
I thought the cost was very reasonable. Each treatment has an individual price, which then gets cheaper if you take packages – the more sessions, the lower the price. If you combine the cryotherapy and Sleeksculpt like I did it will cost R750 per treatment, if you take 6 sessions.
Article: Liezel Fourie, original article appeared in 9Lives on the 30th of May 2016