The Science Behind Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: How Does It Work?

By Lisa St. John, M.S.
The Science Behind Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: How Does It Work?

Uncover the science of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and its benefits in our guide. Discover how this innovative treatment works and its potential for health needs.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a fascinating scientific wonder that harnesses the power of oxygen to heal. The science behind this therapy is quite straightforward, yet incredibly intriguing. It revolves around the concept of increased atmospheric pressure and the biological effects of pure oxygen on the human body. 

Understanding the science behind HBOT is crucial to appreciating its benefits. Let's delve into the fundamentals of this therapy and explore how it harnesses the power of oxygen to promote wellness.

The Basics of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

HBOT is an innovative medical treatment that has gained traction in the past 20 years. But how does HBOT work? It involves a patient lying in a chamber wherein atmospheric pressure is increased. 

While lying in the chamber, the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen through an oxygen mask to boost the amount of oxygen delivered to tissues throughout the body. The air you breathe normally has 21% oxygen. This increased oxygen can help promote healing, reduce swelling, and stimulate new blood vessel formation. 

Definition and Purpose of HBOT

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a non-invasive treatment. As we mentioned, it utilizes 100% oxygen, and does so within a pressurized chamber. This oxygen under pressure enhances the delivery of oxygen to bones and soft tissues. It is approved by the FDA, Medicare, and several private insurance companies for a wide range of medical conditions.

By increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to tissues and cells in the body, HBOT enhances the body's ability to repair and regenerate. This makes it an invaluable tool in various medical contexts, from wound healing to managing certain chronic conditions.

How HBOT Works?

The increased oxygen supply that results from supplying 100% oxygen under elevated atmospheric pressure can promote healing and enhance the body's ability to combat various conditions.

The Hyperbaric Chamber

The hyperbaric chamber is a remarkable medical device that uses elevated atmospheric pressure to enhance healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy finds application in various medical contexts, like wound healing, treating decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, and radiation injury resulting from cancer treatment. 

By increasing pressure and administering pure oxygen, the chamber improves tissue oxygenation and outcomes for diverse medical conditions. It's a testament to human advances in healthcare, offering hope and healing to individuals facing medical challenges that have not found a solution with traditional medicine.

The Mechanism in Action

Inside a hyperbaric chamber, the process unfolds with two key elements: pressurization and oxygen delivery.

Pressurization involves sealing the chamber and gradually increasing the pressure by introducing compressed air. This mimics the experience of being at greater depths underwater, albeit in a controlled and safe manner.

Simultaneously, patients breathe pure oxygen through a specialized mask. This high-oxygen environment facilitates the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream, promoting efficient delivery to areas with compromised blood flow or damaged tissues, expediting healing. This combination of controlled pressure and oxygen administration forms the essence of the hyperbaric chamber's healing mechanism.

Oxygen's Role in Healing and Recovery

What to Expect During an HBOT Session

Now, it’s time to learn about what you should expect from your first hyperbaric oxygen therapy session:


Prior to your initial hyperbaric treatment, our knowledgeable medical staff will engage in a conversation with you. They will collect your medical background, address any inquiries you may have, and provide a thorough explanation of the hyperbaric process. Additionally, they will evaluate your suitability for hyperbaric treatment and arrange your intake and first session.

For your intake:

  1. Eat: Have a snack or meal an hour before your visit for energy, assuming you will get into the chamber after your intake.
  2. Bring Info: Bring ID, insurance cards, and paperwork from your doctor.

First Steps

When you arrive, we welcome you warmly, recognizing the significance of your first treatment. It's normal to feel a bit nervous before your initial session, but there's nothing to worry about. You can also watch an informative video to familiarize yourself with the process. In our clinic, we've created a comfortable and inviting atmosphere, where you can bring a family member or friend with you. 

Your Intake

This session, conducted by David Roberts, our Senior Hyperbaric Technician with two decades of experience, or Suzanne White, or Nurse Practitioner, or Lisa St John, the Clinic Director for the past 25 years, occurs just before your first hyperbaric treatment. During this time, we'll discuss your expectations, the healing process, and how hyperbaric oxygen will address your specific condition. We'll also review your medical history and payment details, ensuring you understand your insurance coverage and how HBOT contributes to your recovery.

Orientation to Your Chamber

You'll meet your hyperbaric chamber and get comfy. Your technician assists with everything, and you can select a movie to watch while the treatment is being done. Many patients find the chamber cozy for relaxation and meditation.

Your Treatment

Your technician ensures your comfort. Pressure changes may affect your ears, similar to flying. You can sleep, watch a movie, or chat while being inside the chamber. Pressurization and depressurization takes 10 to 15 minutes and your technician is always with you.

Emerging from the Chamber

Some patients say they need a few minutes to orient themselves before they get on with their day, and we can provide refreshments. Hyperbaric treatment can be energetically demanding. We're here to support your healing journey by constantly monitoring you.

After Treatment

Be gentle with yourself, avoid strenuous activities, and get enough rest. We're here to help if you have questions or concerns. Your comfort and healing are our priorities.

Get Started with Bay Area Hyperbarics!

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy operates at the intersection of science and medicine, leveraging the remarkable properties of oxygen to enhance the body's healing capacity. By immersing patients in a pressurized environment and increasing oxygen levels, HBOT contributes to faster recovery and improved well-being.

At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we strive to provide clients with the best possible hyperbaric oxygen therapy experience. Our highly experienced and knowledgeable practitioners and state-of-the-art facilities offer the latest medical technology. If you want to learn more about HBOT or start a treatment plan, don't hesitate to reach out and book a consultation today! We're here to help you experience the healing power of oxygen.

Lisa St. John, M.S.
Lisa St. John, M.S.
Clinic Director and Founder

Lisa is our Clinic Director and Founder. She earned her Master’s degree from Harvard University, completed a Fellowship at Stanford University, and has spent the last 30 years working in the healthcare field.

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The Science Behind Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Uncover the science of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and its benefits in our guide. Discover how this innovative treatment works and its potential for health needs.


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