Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Wound
Healing After Plastic Surgery
1. What is HBOT?
2. When can HBOT be performed?
3. What does a typical HBOT consultation entail?
4. How is HBOT performed?
5. What should I expect post-treatment?
6. Does HBOT hurt?
7. When will I be able to see the results?
8. What are the risks of HBOT?
HBOT is the treatment in which
the patient breathes 100% oxygen at pressures greater than normal atmospheric
(sea level) pressure. HBOT involves the systemic delivery of oxygen at
levels 2 to 3 times greater than atmospheric pressure. This way oxygen is literally
forced into the tissues to promote nitrogen bubble release for Decompression
Sickness (DCS) in which scuba divers can be subject to if they make a decompression dive without proper
For medical reasons pother than for divers
in need of decompression, HBOT's capability of producing high levels
of oxygen saturation helps promote and extraordinary healing environment.
Vascularization is increased, excess scar tissue probability is lessened,
healing time is lessened -- risks and problematic wounds percentages are
decreased and more.
Anytime there is a need for tissue oxygen
saturation. Many patients are infants and younger children with grave illnesses, all the way up into the 90's for problematic wounds. There is no age
limit, usually. However in infants there is sometimes a need to pierce the
eardrum for proper equalization as infants do not know that swallowing will ease
Your doctor will
discuss with you the risks, the complications, determine if you are a good
candidate and assess your needs. If you have any of the following TELL THE
cold or flu symptoms, sinus or nasal congestion, or chest congestion
If there may be
a possibility of pregnancy
you are on -- including herbal supplements, vitamins or birth control.
If you have
skipped a meal prior to HBO treatment
If you are
diabetic and did not take your insulin prior to treatment
If you have any
concerns or anxiety or are claustrophobic
depression in you or your family's history
If you smoke
(QUIT!) Smokers have an increased amount of carbon monoxide in their body.
If you have
chronic gas problems (just a precaution)
If you have ever
had a collapsed lung
As well as ANY
of the contraindications mentioned listed in the HBOT
main section. This is important! If something happens in the chamber,
you can't just open the door -- you MUST go through proper decompression
before you are let out or someone is let in that isn't already in.
You will be
advised about antioxidants and other supplements during your treatments such
as vitamin E, glutathione, GABA, gingko biloba, grape seed proanthocyanids,
and N-acetyl-cysteine. These can improve the benefits and safety of your
You will have
extensive rules tossed at you. But, listen to them because they are for
your own best interest and safety. You should come to the clinic fully
scrubbed and clean -- no perfume, make-up, hairspray, leave in conditioners,
moisturizers, powders, etc. NOTHING. You will enter the chamber and a HBOT
session can be anywhere from an hour to 1 and a 1/2 hours, depending.
Usually it will be about once a day, but sometimes you may have 2 sessions a day
at 3 to 4 hours apart. Whatever the case expect to be there for at least 2
hours per session.
evaluation and briefing you will be lead into a chamber and if in a multiplace
chamber just sit there with an oxygen mask on your face and breathe.
That's it, period. But, you can not hold your breath in any way - not even
for a few seconds. Especially if you are ascending
(decompressing). You do this and your lungs could be very damaged or
collapse from a weakened spot bursting from the pressure of the expanding oxygen
in your lungs.
If you are in a monoplace
chamber you don't even get to move much, you basically lie there. NO anything
as the oxygen in the chamber is very flammable and you could quite frankly die
from an inner explosion from any ignition of the oxygen. Your clothing
should only consist of 100% cotton, to be safe) According to the NFPA,
19-220.127.116.11 (b) states "Garments fabricated of 100 percent cotton or an antistatic
blend of cotton and polyester fabric shall be permitted in Class A chambers
equipped with fire protection as specified in 19.2.5, and in Class B
chambers" (Thank you, Tom Workman).
Let the chamber
operator know immediately if you experience any of the following :
There really is no recovery per se connected with HBOT, only decompression. Your
initial complaints are what you are attempting to heal from and HBOT is only a
tool in which to speed that process up. However, you should not go
scubadiving after (if applicable) or flying. Your tissues are still
saturated with gases and any further compression of your tissues can lead to
more gas saturation, thereby giving you decompression sickness (DCS). Then
you will have to go back in a chamber and re-compress and then be decompressed
VERY slowly in hopes that your tissue saturation returns to normal without any
long term damage.
It can if you do not equalize properly.
This can cause ear pain which can be relieved by swallowing or holding your nose
and attempting to blow out of it at the same time, gently. You may also
be able to drink sips of water in some chambers which may ease pressure.
IN persons who have colds and are unable to equalize you may not be able to have
an HBOT session until your cold or ears aren't stopped up any
longer. You may have felt such pressures if you dive into the deep end of
a pool, have ascended or descended in an airplane or driven up to high altitudes
(mountain ranges). If you are unable to equalize and continue to increase
pressure, your eardrums can burst or pop (rupture).
Let the technician know if you are having difficulty equalizing before it is too
There really is no result only
improved healing, possibly lessened scarring, improved vascularity, etc.
You are going to heal regardless in many cases, but many times HBOT allows for
decreased healing time, and increased chance of graft survival and lessened
Risks can be anywhere from disorientation,
ruptured ear drums and more. Please see our HBOT main section for this
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