Expert OpinionCase StudiesHyperbarics 101

Hyperbarics Accelerates Healing for Plastic Surgery Patients

By Lisa St. John, M.S.
Hyperbarics Accelerates Healing for Plastic Surgery Patients
Over the last year, a large number of patients have been referred to us by plastic surgeons. Our purpose is to heal our community, and it is our deepest joy to watch our patients as they heal faster and more completely than they would have without hyperbarics. Many of our patients have mentioned that their scar tissue has decreased dramatically, in some cases it has become almost invisible.

Beyond Core Conditions

As you’ve seen on our blog to-date, numerous studies have shown that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a powerful tool in the management of a wide range of medical conditions, from wound healing and tissue regeneration to healing long covid to the treatment of concussions and traumatic brain injury. One area where our physician partners have increasingly recognized the value of HBOT is plastic surgery.

Patient Case Study

One patient came to us the day after he cut a tendon in his thumb with a power saw and received 16 stitches. Honestly, the wound looked ghastly. After two weeks of hyperbarics, his doctor looked at the wound and did a double-take, looking into his notes and said “Wait— we must have entered the date of your accident wrong— it wasn’t just two weeks ago that this happened. This looks like six weeks of healing. How is that possible?” It was possible because of hyperbarics.

Why HBOT Helps with Plastic Surgery

The increased pressure and oxygen levels in HBOT provide greater oxygen concentration in the blood. This helps promote healing by directly increasing oxygenation of injured tissues. It also has secondary benefits, including stimulating the growth of new blood vessels and tissue, as well as reducing inflammation and swelling.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Heals Grafts and Flaps

First and foremost, HBOT can greatly improve the success rates of skin grafts and flaps. These procedures involve taking tissue from one part of the body and transferring it to another area, often to repair a wound or injury. However, these grafts and flaps are at risk of failure due to a lack of blood supply or oxygen, which can cause the tissue to die off. HBOT helps to increase the oxygen levels in the graft or flap, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of complications.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Heals Infections

Another area where HBOT can be valuable in plastic surgery is in the treatment of infections. Infections are a common complication after surgery, and can be particularly dangerous in the context of plastic surgery, where the skin is often under tension and at risk of necrosis. HBOT can help to combat these infections by boosting the immune system and increasing oxygen levels, which can kill bacteria and promote healing.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Reduces Scar Tissue

Finally, HBOT can also be beneficial in reducing the appearance of scars. Scars are a natural part of the healing process, but in some cases they can become raised, thick, or discolored, causing cosmetic concerns. HBOT has been shown to reduce the appearance of scars by increasing collagen production and promoting blood flow, which can help to improve the texture and color of the skin.

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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