What You Should Know About Carboxytherapy

Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, RN, CRNA on October 18, 2017Written by Ana Gotter

Fast facts

About

  • Carboxytherapy is treatment for cellulite, stretch marks, and dark under-eye circles.
  • It originated in French spas in the 1930s.
  • The treatment can be applied to the eyelids, neck, face, arms, buttocks, stomach, and legs.
  • It uses infusions of carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas in the body.

Safety

  • Carboxytherapy is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • It has no lasting side effects.

Convenience

  • It’s a quick, 15- to 30-minute outpatient procedure.
  • You can return to normal routines immediately, aside from swimming and bathing in a tub for 24 hours after treatment for cellulite or fat reduction.

Cost

  • Most people need 7 to 10 sessions.
  • Each session costs approximately $75 to $200.

Efficacy

What is carboxytherapy?

Carboxytherapy is used to treat cellulite, dark under-eye circles, and stretch marks. People who undergo the procedure find an improvement in:

  • circulation
  • skin elasticity
  • fine lines and wrinkles

It also aids with collagen repair and the destruction of fatty deposits.

Additionally, it can help reduce under-eye circles by increasing blood flow to the eyelid. Some physicians have also used the therapy to treat erectile dysfunction, acute arthritis, Raynaud’s syndrome, and alopecia caused by poor blood circulation.

For fat and cellulite reduction, the procedure is often preferred over more invasive and high-risk methods, such as liposuction.

Carboxytherapy can be used on the face, eyelids, neck, stomach, arms, legs, and buttocks.

How much does it cost?

People usually require 7 to 10 treatments of carboxytherapy, spaced out 1 week apart, before they begin to see results. Each treatment can cost between $75 and $200 depending on the provider.

How is carboxytherapy performed?

The specifics of the procedure will vary based on the part of the body being treated. The mechanics of the procedure, however, are mostly the same.

A tank of carbon dioxide gas is connected to a flow-regulator with plastic tubing. The physician will carefully regulate how much gas flows from the tank. The gas is emitted through the flow-regulator and into sterile tubing that has a filter at the end. The filter picks up any impurities before they reach the body. The gas then runs through a very small needle on the opposite side of the filter. The physician injects the gas beneath the skin through the needle.

The procedure is almost entirely painless. Some physicians rub numbing cream on the injection site before inserting the needle. Despite the lack of pain, some people report feeling a strange sensation briefly afterward.

Carboxytherapy is an outpatient procedure, and it usually only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete.

How do you prepare for carboxytherapy?

There is no specific preparation before the procedure, though your physician may have special instructions depending on your circumstances.

How the procedure works

Poor blood circulation is partially responsible for cellulite, stretch marks, and dark under-eye circles. Cells in the body release carbon dioxide as waste. Red blood cells take the oxygen you inhale and carry it to tissues, then pick up carbon dioxide. Eventually, the carbon dioxide is exhaled by the lungs.

A physician can increase blood circulation to a specific area by injecting carbon dioxide, causing the red blood cells to rush to the area. When the blood cells reach the location, they create an increase in circulation. This works to repair skin elasticity and, in the case of under-eye circles, change pigment to a healthy glow.

  • Stretch marks: The stretch marks you see on your body are a rupture of dermal collagen. Carboxytherapy creates new collagen, which thickens the skin and improves its appearance.
  • Cellulite: Carbon dioxide gas can also be injected into fat cells, which causes the cells to burst and be eliminated in the body. Cellulite is caused when subcutaneous fat protrudes through the skin. Several studies have found that carboxytherapy is both safe effective when used to treat cellulite.
  • Under-eye circles: Dark circles under the eyes are usually caused by poor circulation, which creates vascular pooling. Injecting the gas under the eyelid reduces this bluish pooling and replaces it with a blush tone.
  • Alopecia: Alopecia (hair loss) caused by poor circulation can be treated with carboxytherapy as well.

What are the side effects of carboxytherapy?

Carboxytherapy is a relatively safe procedure with almost no side effects. People may have bruising at the injection site, specifically in the arms and legs. This bruising should clear up within a week. People who get the procedure for fat reduction or cellulite also shouldn’t immerse themselves in water for 24 hours, including swimming or using a bathtub.

What to expect after

When carboxytherapy is used to treat stretch marks and scars, it’s relatively painless. This is because scar tissue doesn’t have nerves. You may feel an itching sensation as the stretch marks are distended during the procedure. The itchiness should resolve in about five minutes.

People who use carboxytherapy for treating cellulite and fatty deposits may feel pressure during the injection, similar to the sensation felt during a blood pressure test. This is caused by the expanding gas. Treated areas will feel warm and tingly after the treatment for up to 24 hours, as the carbon dioxide gas does its job and circulation improves. However, you should be able to perform your normal routine after the procedure is over.

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