Cryotherapy Facial: What Is It, Benefits, Risks, & How It Works

A deeper look into this revitalizing therapy and its positive impact on your skin.

Medically Reviewed by Patrick, MD, FACS
By Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

Botox is a term that most people are familiar with. But, have you ever heard of frotox? This is the term given to cryotherapy facial by the beauty industry. Cryotherapy facial involves exposing your skin to sub-zero temperatures. It is the trendiest skin care treatment on the market right now, and celebrities are crazy about it. In this article, we have discussed all about this treatment, its benefits, side effects, and much more. Keep reading!

What Is Cryotherapy Facial?

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Cryotherapy means ‘cold therapy.’ It is a treatment in which your body or a body part (such as your face) is exposed to subzero temperatures for a few minutes.

This technique was first developed in Japan in 1978. The Japanese rheumatologist, Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi, is credited with developing this technique. He primarily used this technique to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Soon, the benefits of cryotherapy moved beyond arthritis. It proved beneficial for treating inflammation, psoriasis, and tissue pain and revitalizing the skin.

Cryotherapy can be done on just one particular area of your body or your entire body. When it is done on the face, it is called ‘cryotherapy facial,’ and when it is done on your body, it is called ‘whole-body cryotherapy.’ The way it is administered depends on the specific area of the body you are addressing.

In whole-body cryotherapy, your body is enclosed in a small chamber. You need to stand inside a chamber that surrounds only your body, leaving an opening for your head. Once your body is inside the chamber, its temperature is dropped to anywhere between -200° and -300° Fahrenheit. The aesthetician blows a cold stream of air that is made of vaporized liquid nitrogen. Your body is exposed to that temperature for just a few minutes

When exposed to freezing temperature, your body thinks that it’s freezing. This triggers the natural healing mechanism of your body. It accumulates blood in the core of your body to keep it warm. This expands your capillaries, and the white blood cells start working at a faster pace to protect you. During those minutes, your brain also releases hormones, such as adrenaline and endorphins, to stimulate your organs. This reaction facilitates cell rejuvenation, boosts your immune function, and promotes self-healing.

Fun Fact
Cryotherapy is popular even among top celebrities, such as Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Justin Bieber, Christiano Ronaldo, and more.

Cryotherapy facial does not involve such a chamber. Here is what you can expect during a session.

How Cryotherapy Facial Works: What To Expect During A Session

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Different doctors might follow slightly different processes for cryotherapy, but overall, the approach remains the same.

  • Before the treatment, your face is thoroughly cleansed and massaged. This helps in lymphatic drainage and elimination of toxins and tension from your facial muscles.
  • Your face might be exposed to steam. If you have any breakouts, they will be extracted with a quick session of microdermabrasion.
  • In some places, your face may be exposed to different light frequencies to aid repair, kill bacteria, and boost collagen production. This helps in improving your skin’s health.

Now, the cryotherapy session begins.

  • Your eyes are covered with protective goggles.
  • A cold blast of liquid nitrogen is pumped all over your face using a tube attached to the cryotherapy machine. The nozzle of the tube has lasers that measure the temperature of your skin continuously.
  • The tube is continuously moved all over your face. This is to ensure that no particular area of your face gets too cold.

A cryotherapy facial session lasts for 2-3 minutes. Once the process is over, your safety goggles are removed. In many places, a cryotherapy session is followed by other spa facial treatments. You may receive red LED light therapy (to increase skin radiance), a facial massage, and a hydrating mask to boost your skin’s health. Immediately after the procedure, your skin will feel tighter and smoother.

Whether you are opting for just a facial or a full-body session, cryotherapy offers multiple benefits. Let’s explore them in the next section.

Benefits Of Cryotherapy Facial For Skin

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1. It Helps Improve Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

A 2008 study involving 18 adults with mild to moderate levels of atopic dermatitis examined the efficacy of cryotherapy in reducing AD symptoms. Most of the participants experienced improvement in their condition. However, three of them complained of mild acral (areas of limbs, ear, and nose) frostbite. Overall, the subjects regarded the process as pleasant and were willing to follow the course of treatment (1).

2. It Helps Reduce Acne

A study done on mice found that exposing the sebaceous glands to a temperature of -8° Celsius reduced the number of sebocytes (sebum-producing cells), thus preventing excessive sebum production (2).

3. It Improves Blood Circulation

When you undergo cryotherapy facial, the intense cold air makes your blood vessels contract and then expand. This leads to increased blood flow to your skin and makes it look healthy and radiant.

4. It Tightens Your Skin Pores

The cold temperature of cryotherapy tightens your skin’s pores. This prevents the accumulation of dirt and bacteria in your pores.

Other Benefits Of Cryotherapy

1. It Eases Pain

Cryotherapy is mainly used by athletes to treat muscle spasms and injuries. When your body is exposed to cold, it numbs the irritated nerve and helps in easing acute injuries and swelling. The cold also helps minimize inflammation, thus treating bruises, strains, and sprains (3).

2. It Eases Migraine Symptoms

A study found that cold therapy could ease migraine symptoms effectively. The study involved 101 patients (of which only 55 participants were included in the data analysis) with a migraine headache targeting their carotid arteries at the neck. The recordings were measured at various time intervals, such as during the onset of pain, after 15 minutes, after 30 minutes, and after 1 hour. And 77% of the participants said that the cold therapy helped in easing the pain (4).

Although the study claims that cryotherapy helps with migraine, the FDA does not have any evidence to support this claim (5).

Cryotherapy facial has many benefits, but it also comes with its fair share of risks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet cleared cryotherapy as a potential treatment option for many skin and health conditions. The risks and side effects of cryotherapy are discussed below.

Side Effects And Risk Factors Of Cryotherapy

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Anna Ghambaryan, a scientific reviewer at FDA, says that asphyxiation is the most significant risk posed by whole-body cryotherapy. She states that the amount of nitrogen in an enclosed area may cause oxygen deficiency, which can lead to hypoxia and loss of consciousness (5). Other potential risks include:

  • Frostbite
  • Ice burns
  • Numbness and tingling sensation
  • Redness

Also, avoid cryotherapy if you have:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • High blood pressure
  • History of seizures
  • Metal implants in your body
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Anemia
  • Or, are pregnant
StyleCraze Says
Apply petroleum jelly to the treated area every day for two weeks after treatment. It will aid in soothing, healing, and managing crusting skin.

Infographic: How To Prepare For Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy and cryo facials have grown in popularity in recent years, with celebs swearing by the chilly treatment for red carpet preparation and skin-care specialists touting its long list of skin benefits. However, you should know a few things before getting a cryo facial if you are new to them. Check out the infographic below to learn how to prepare for cryotherapy treatment the right way.

how to prepare for cryotherapy [infographic]

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Cryotherapy facial has many benefits and may promote blood circulation and revitalize the skin. However, exposing the skin to low temperatures may have many side effects and cause redness and numbness. The FDA still has not cleared the use of cryotherapy for treating skin and other health issues, and further research is required to prove its efficacy. If you wish to go for a cryotherapy facial, it is best to consult a doctor and understand the pros and cons of the therapy and whether you are suitable for it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for skin to heal after cryotherapy?

About 1-3 weeks. Anecdotal evidence suggests that mild pain or skin redness experienced after cryotherapy may resolve within 3 days while blisters may take up to 3 weeks to heal.

Does cryotherapy make you look younger?

Possibly. Cryotherapy stimulates collagen production that rejuvenates your skin and makes it firmer.

Can I wear makeup after cryotherapy?

Yes, as long as there are no blisters or redness. You can wash your skin as usual after cryotherapy and wear makeup or other cosmetics.

Key Takeaways

  • In cryotherapy facial, the face skin is exposed to sub-zero temperatures for short durations.
  • Temperature between -200° and -300° Fahrenheit is used, and one session lasts about 2-3 minutes.
  • This facial helps combat acne, improve blood circulation, ease pain, and reduce migraines.
  • However, frostbites, redness, ice burns may occur in a few sensitive individuals.

References

  1. Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Atopic…”, JAMA Dermatology
  2. Longitudinal, 3D In Vivo Imaging of…”, ScienceDirect
  3. Cryotherapy”, New York Chiropractice College
  4. Randomized Controlled Trial…”, Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Whole Body Cryotherapy…“, U.S. Food & Drug Administration
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author
Ramona is an editor at StyleCraze. Prior to that, she authored over 200 articles on skin and hair care. She... more

Patrick

(MD, FACS)
Dr. Patrick Hsu is a board-certified plastic surgeon and reconstructive microsurgeon in Houston and the founder of Memorial Plastic Surgery.... more

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