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Hyperbaric Oxygen May Speed Cosmetic Healing

Skin and Allergy News

By Mitchell L. Zoler

Newport Beach, California - Several treatments with hyperbaric oxygen may cut the recovery time for facial skin resurfacing by 50%, based on the anecdotal observations of two dermatologists.

"I see fairly dramatic results in patients undergoing laser peels or other cosmetic surgery," said Dr. Robert A. Yoho at a meeting on office-based skin rejuvenation techniques sponsored by the Fulton Skin Institutes and the Premier Educational Group.

An effective treatment is five 1.5 to 2 hour sessions on 5 consecutive days at 2-2.4 atmospheres of pressure. A key seems to be scheduling the first treatment on the same day as surgery, as soon as possible after the patient is alert following anesthesia, said Dr.Yoho, a cosmetic surgeon who practices in Pasadena, California.

"We use five to six treatments at 2 atmospheres and see a reduction in edema. It's a tremendous advance," said Dr. James E. Fulton Jr., a dermatologist in practice in Newport Beach.

At 2 atmospheres, equivalent to 33 feet below sea level the amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood is 4.3mL./100mL., more than 10 times the amount normally present.

The increased PO2 helps drive more oxygen into tissues, explained Russell E. Peterson, Ph.D., at the meeting.

Elevated tissue oxygen speeds healing by promoting several processes including fibroblast proliferation, collagen synthesis, macrophage migration and function, and agiogenesis. Hyperbaric oxygen also inhibits neutrophil infiltration, which can disrupt the microcirculation and damage the vascular endothelium.

Another effect of hyperbaric oxygen is edema reduction. This occurs through a sequence of circualtory changes that reverse the pressure gradient across the capillary wall and increase the tendency for fluid to enter the capillaries from the tissue, said Dr. Peterson, who represents a hyperbaric oxygen chamber manufacturer in West Chester, PA.

Hyperbaric oxygen must be used cautiously. Overtreatment can cause undesirable side effects. High pressure is contraindicated for patients who are unable to clear their ears or have untreated pneumothorax. It is also contraindicated in patients taking disulfiram, doxorubicin, cisplatin, or mafenid acetate. Hperbaric systems that contain increased concentrations of oxygen also pose special concerns related to fire safety.