Cryotherapy boats fans including Hollywood actors Demi Moorea and Jessica Alba and sports stars Kobe Bryant and Cristiano Ronaldo Image Credit: GN Archive

Dubai: Lose weight, rejuvenate skin, stimulate collagen production and heal injuries. The new non-invasive procedure — cryotherapy — promises this and much more and is seeing residents from across the UAE and the GCC make a beeline for two centres set up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Hollywood stars like Demi Moore and Jessica Alba have been known to use cryotherapy for enhanced collagen reproduction while sports stars like Kobe Bryant and Cristiano Ronaldo use it for pain relief and quick healing of sports injuries. Closer home, Dubai-based jockey Wayne Smith endured subzero temperatures in a cryo chamber for accelerated healing of his collarbone injury.

Thrilled with the results and response, Benny Parihar, partner at Cryo Health, Dubai, explains how the procedure works: “Whole Body Cryotherapy [WBC] involves a painless freezing of the skin’s surface through exposure to extremely low temperatures [-120 to -140 degrees Celsius using gasiform nitrogen] for a maximum of three minutes. The cooling of the body through a dry method rather than using ice water ensures that the body goes back to its normal temperature within seconds, ensuring no post-treatment chills.

The treatment’s temporary cooling action encourages the immediate release of increased levels of endorphins and adrenaline as it improves blood circulation and accelerates the delivery of oxygen through the body. This speeds up the removal of toxins while toning muscles at the same time. The surge of metabolism consumes 400-800 calories, aiding in weight loss, cellulite reduction, tighter and healthier skin, as well as increased collagen production.

“Initially, only chiropractors, physiotherapists and health club owners wanted the cryo chambers, however, now more and more people in the GCC region are opting for it for a variety of health and beauty reasons,” he said.

Doctors in Dubai are using this non-conservative therapy in a variety of situations. A doctor at Dubai Health Care City uses the procedure for painless removal of warts. However, plastic surgeons in town are a bit sceptical about the efficacy of the procedure vis-a-vis other available weight loss procedures.

Dr Allen Rezai, plastic surgeon at the Elite Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery group, lists the pros and cons of the procedure. “While cryotherapy has been recognised for its therapeutic uses in palliative care and healing, only recently has it been deployed for weight reduction. The procedure called cryolipolisis freezes fat cells, leaving the overlying skin and surrounding tissue intact. Generally, a reduction of 20 per cent fat can be expected but this may take a number of treatments, and the number of treatments required may vary according to the amount of excess fat present. The good thing is that the process is non-invasive, so no anaesthesia or surgical incision is required. However, the downside is that it takes between two–four months and several sessions for the results to appear, only a small area can be treated at a time and multiple sessions are required for optimal results.

“Hence the results are not as rapid or dramatic as other surgical procedures such as liposuction or Vaser lipo. However, other non-invasive procedures such as radio frequency and ultrasound have a better track record in melting subcutaneous fat and stimulating collagen production. “Besides, cryolipolisis is not for someone who is obese and wants to lose weight. It is suitable for individuals who are happy with their overall weight and only want to reduce localised fat. Also, it will not affect the skin in any away as cryolipolisis’ primary purpose is to reduce fat cells and volume. Therefore, patients with poor skin elasticity or with pre-existing skin laxity are not ideal candidates for this treatment,” he explained.