If you’re anything like me, you’ll be a bit of a slave to the health and beauty trends of the USA. Some of them are decidedly creepy (hello Vampire Facial à la Kim Kardashian), and some of them are clearly going to take the UK by storm in coming years. One of those is Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy literally means treatment using very low temperature, so can be looked at as a bit of a reboot of an athlete’s ice bath. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen, meaning it can reach far lower temperatures than it’s ice-bath ancestors, and the benefits seem to be countless.
From reducing inflammation, helping muscle and joint pain, wrinkle reduction, weight-loss and general immunity boosts, Cryotherapy looks to be a bit of a wonder treatment for all. Sound too good to be true? Georgie and I went along to Leeds Cryotherapy Clinic to visit the lovely Christine and try it out for ourselves.
So how does it work?
Cryotherapy reaches -160 degrees via filtered liquid nitrogen, in the form of ice-cold vapour. When the body registers the sub-zero temperature, the sudden drop in heat stimulates the brain to focus on the chilled area, stimulating healing and decreasing healing time in injuries, and increasing collagen production for aesthetic treatments.
We were a bit nervous, as most of my research on Cryo in the USA involved full body chambers, where your body is immersed in the cold vapour for up to 3 minutes. The bit that put me off was descriptions of the head/ear band, gloves and boots supplied to reduce the possibility of your extremities from falling off – limb loss does not strike me as all that rejuvenating!
Fear not! Leeds Cryotherapy operates using a concentrated administration of the vapour to the chosen area. The vapour comes from a tube that looks a little like a vacuum cleaner, giving Christine complete control over how close to the body (and so how intense) the vapour is. She also takes into account body frame size and area of interest which in turn influence the intensity and duration of vapour flow. Altogether, the treatment feels well calculated in order to best suit the individual patient – so far so good!
Now I’m quite lucky, and don’t actually suffer with any muscular/skeletal aches and pains yet, so I could be totally indulgent and select a Cryo-facial with purely aesthetic benefits. The facial promises instant face-lift results thanks to stimulated collagen production, whilst boosting general radiance and vibrancy of skin through the increased blood flow. Sounds good no? The consultation started as a normal facial, with Christine using a number of delicious smelling cleansers, exfoliating products and creams. My skin felt super clean and hydrated and I was already feeling pretty relaxed.
Then it was time for the ice. As a bit of a wimp, I was a bit nervous going into the treatment, half expecting to come away with icicles on my eyelashes and contact lenses frozen to my eyes. To reassure me, Christine waved the nozzle over my arm first so I could feel the cold and prepare myself. Considering the dramatically cold temperature, the vapour felt like little more than a cool breeze, so I was nicely reassured as she moved the vapour to my face. The nozzle was continuously moved in small circles and Christine constantly moved the area she was chilling, focussing on one half of my face first. It’s a bit peculiar really, the air flow never felt dramatically cold but after a few minutes I had a feeling of tightness in my skin as you do when it’s very cold outside. I closed my eyes more out of comfort than necessity and it was far more relaxing than I imagined it could be. The cold was slightly more noticeable on the thinner skin of the neck, but even this was just a gentle sensation as opposed to being uncomfortable or painful.
Half of my face done, Christine handed me a mirror to check out the difference between the ‘Cryo-d’ and normal sides of my face. The treated size was noticeable tighter, and though I don’t have too many fine lines, the ones that scatter around my eyes were ironed out. The biggest thing I noticed was that the bags under my eye were massively reduced when compared to the other side. Content that my face wasn’t frostbitten, I sat back and relaxed for the second half of my treatment on the opposite side.
When the facial was finished, I was sporting those pretty little rosy cheeks you see in the middle of December, and my skin was glowing. It’s a very strange sensation, like when you go inside after being out on a cold day for hours, but only on your face! It’s indescribable but fun to experience, health and beauty benefits aside!
Facial complete, Georgie hopped up to see how Cryo would blast her lower back pain. Most days she just aches, but sometimes those aches turn to spasms and her days can be miserable as a result. Christine started by putting an accelerator gel on Georgie’s lower back which intensifies the freezing procedure – something you would get on larger body areas but not the delicate skin of the face. Again, Georgie commented that the vapour feels more like a cool breeze than anything painful or even intensely cold. After a 15 minute treatment, her back was no longer aching and she felt no pain when standing up straight.
Leaving the clinic, it’s a bit bizarre – you’re dead relaxed and feel very pampered, but I had loads of energy. As with any treatment, booking a course will yield the best results, but I found my skin looked brighter, tighter and clearer for days afterwards. If you’re suffering from unwanted aches and pains, or you’re wanting to uplift and re-energise your skin, find out more about Leeds Cryotherapy!