*This post is sponsored – but the thoughts and feelings are our own, and we only work with businesses we believe to be reputable and resourceful to our readers.
I didn’t know it was possible to safely stand naked in a chamber cooled to negative 240 degrees Fahrenheit, but it turns out that it is, and I was lucky enough to give it a try at Bay Area Cosmetic Dermatology.
The treatment is called whole-body cryotherapy, and it started in Japan in the 1970s to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It’s since become popular among athletes to alleviate inflammation and the aches and pains associated with their intense physical workouts. My brother-in-law, who played college football and had a stint in the NFL, confirmed that cryotherapy feels better than sitting in an ice bath because it takes much less time (only three minutes), and it’s easier to get warm when you’re done (it’s a dry cold compared to a wet cold).
Bay Area Cosmetic Dermatology, one of the best dermatological practices in the city, offers it for these reasons, but also as an invigorating treatment to get a quick rush of endorphins and to jump start an additional calorie burn, similar to what you’d experience after a good workout. Instead of heating your body up, though, it’s cooling it down, way down, to temperatures one hundred degrees colder than any temperatures naturally recorded on Earth.
The chamber itself looks like something out of a science fiction movie. It’s charcoal, a little shiny and in a rounded shape to better accommodate the human form. There’s a digital screen on one side that shows the temperature of the chamber plunging in preparation for my entrance.
I, however, look anything but futuristic. To protect my extremities from the incredibly cold temperatures, I’m wearing socks up to my knees, black clogs and thick wool gloves. Men are provided soft cotton underwear for their special extremity, but undergarments are optional for women. I choose to keep on my skivvies but not wear my bra. I regret this decision almost immediately upon dropping my robe and stepping into the chamber. Whew! It’s nippy in there.
The technician raises the platform on which I stand until my head and the top part of my shoulders are above the machine, and then the treatment begins. She stays with me in the room for the duration, which isn’t long at all — only two and a half minutes for first timers and three minutes for repeat users.
The chamber fills with nitrogen vapors that spill over the top, as the chamber cools to it’s lowest temperature, and I’m back to feeling quite cutting-edge for giving this a try. It is cold, make no mistake, but it is tolerable. I’m amazed at how effective these socks and gloves are. I’m not a warm-bodied person; my hands are always cold, and my regular body temperature hangs a little below the usual 98.6, but somehow I’m fine in the chamber. It’s really chilly in here, like stepping into a walk-in freezer (naked), but keeping my head above the cold makes a huge difference in tolerating the frosty blast.
At the point where my skin can’t produce another goose bump, and I’m compelled to march in place to create some warmth for myself, the session is over. I put on my robe, feel one little shiver run down my spine, get dressed and head for the door. I was sleepy when I came into the office but now I feel energized. The ten minute walk back home in the sunshine feels good — it’s safe to resume normal activity immediately after treatment — and I don’t feel cold at all by the time I get home. Funnily enough, my skin is actually still cool to the touch even after my brisk walk home because my body is still busy warming itself up. This is where the extra caloric burn comes in. For the next forty-eight hours my body will burn an additional 250 to 500 calories as it comes up to its normal temperature.
Cryotherapy is something I probably wouldn’t have thought to try on my own, but I’m so happy that I got to try it for San Francisco Moms Blog. It took almost no time to complete a treatment, and I felt good when it was done. What about you? Have you tried cryotherapy? Do you want to? Leave your comments below and snap a picture at your next session with the hashtag #SFMomsBlog, so we can see how you get your freeze on.