Hyperbaric Medicine can heal radiation damage to the chest and breast

Hyperbaric Medicine can heal radiation damage to the chest and breast

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) often halts ongoing radiation damage to breast tissues, bones, and skin[2]. It is increasingly used as an adjunct to skin grafting in women treated for necrosis of the chest wall after a mastectomy. Additionally, it stimulates angiogenesis in hypoxic tissues, correcting the ischemia which also improves flap and graft salvage.

Often the wounds that cause pain, tightness, tenderness and burning after breast cancer radiation treatments resolve on their own in a few months. Those that do not resolve are often responsive to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Over the last 20 years, we have observed HBOT helping patients with a variety of non-healing wounds on the breast, ribs and chest wall. We have seen resolved infections, resolved pain and skin returned to its’ normal color. We have also seen shoulder and elbow pain reduced or eliminated by resolving lyphedema and salvaged flaps.
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How Hyperbaric Therapy Helps
  • Stimulates angiogenesis of the radiated bed
  • Corrects ischemia
  • Reduces fibrosis, softens connective fibrous tissue
  • Mobilizes and increases stem cells
  • Resolves infection
  • Effective in wound closure and resolving contraction
  • Salvages threatened breast soft tissue reconstruction
  • Reduces pain


For more details on how HBOT works, see How it works.
Considering if HBOT is appropriate for your patient?

Talk to us, and we’ll help evaluate if HBOT is right for your patient.

Research on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Several studies highlight benefits of HBOT in healing radiation damage to the:
the chest and breast:

Patients suffering from soft tissue necrosis
8 of 8 resolved

Feldmeier et al Retrospective

Patients with ORN of the sternum or ribs
8 of 15 cases resolved*

Feldmeier et al Retrospective

Patients with infections, wounds, soft tissue & necrotic flap preservation
8 of 10 cases resolved**

Matos et al Retrospective

Patients after radiation and breast conservation Pain in arm and shoulder
Pre HBOT 46.4% Post HBOT 16.7%

Teguh et al Prospective

Patients after radiation and breast conservation Pain in breast
Pre HBOT 66.7% Post HBOT 14.5%

Teguh et al Prospective

* Failure to eliminate surgically all necrotic bone was believed to be instrumental.

** Resolution of infection, wound contraction, development of healthy granulation,
epithelialization and flap preservation (if a flap was present).

  1. Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunctive treatment for delayed radiation injury of the chest wall: a retrospective review of twenty-three cases. OpenInNewTab

  2. Hyperbaric, Delayed Radiation Injury. OpenInNewTab

  3. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a refractory skin ulcer after radical mastectomy and radiation therapy: a case report. OpenInNewTab


  5. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Compromised Graft or Flap (Ashish Francis study). OpenInNewTab

  6. Hyperbaric Oxygen following Bilateral Skin-sparing Mastectomies: A Case Report.  OpenInNewTab

  7. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late radiation-induced tissue toxicity: prospectively patient-reported outcome measures in breast cancer patients (Teguh study).  OpenInNewTab

Patients’ Experiences

Karen, 36-year-old patient
Karen, 36
A double-mastectomy and radiation caused unmanageable shoulder pain. HBOT healed the pain and swelling.
Karen is 36 year old stay at home mom of two little girls, and a musician who taught music whenever she could. As with most women, her cancer diagnosis was a shock to her and her family. She had a double mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. The weakness and fatigue that followed in the wake of her procedures were bad enough, but the pain that arose was almost debilitating. Because of the pain, she had difficulty driving her girls to daycare because she could barely hold onto the steering wheel. She complained that her arms felt like lead and her left shoulder hurt with a shocking intensity every time she turned the steering wheel. She simply cried in pain as she drove. Her physician diagnosed this pain as damage from the radiation treatments, and he sent her to Bay Area Hyperbarics. Karen's hyperbaric oxygen treatments healed her pain, the swelling and the aching. To her additional relief, HBOT also helped diminish the overall body fatigue that otherwise increased as morning progressed to afternoon.
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Angelina, 43-year-old patient at beach
Angelina, 43
A lumpectomy and radiation caused pain lifting her right arm. After HBOT, her pain was gone.
Angelina is a 43-year-old mother of three and wife who works in the families leather and fabrics repair business. She, her husband and two sisters work out of a shop in our community. On some school holidays, she brings one of her children in to the shop. Angelina had a lumpectomy and radiation to her right breast. The difficulty started slowly over the next several years when she had pain on lifting up her right arm. Cancer was ruled out. She was sent to physical therapy. She did her physical therapy exercises daily as they requested but the weakness and pain continued to make working difficult as she repaired items on the machines. I gave her information about hyperbaric medicine and what it had done for my mother. She took it to her physician who approved her for HBOT. The mild swelling and some pain reduced within the first week of treatments. It took 30 treatments to repair the tissues to dispel the pain. A year later she was still working in the shop without pain or range of motion issues.
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Denise, 43-year-old patient
Denise, 43
An incision from breast surgery became infected and would not heal due to radiation. HBOT healed the infection.
Denise is a 43 year old high energy, traveling nurse who volunteers in her church helping women navigate their lives. Talkative and bright, she also manages her husbands' medical issues and takes care of her family. She had breast reconstruction and subsequent surgical wounds. Unfortunately, one of the incisions became infected, painful and slow to heal. Denise was hospitalized and given IV antibiotics. She came to Bay Area Hyperbarics because her physician said she wasn’t healing quickly because the radiation had damaged the tissues. She moved slowly so as not to jostle her shoulder which would cause her more pain. The hyperbaric oxygen sessions healed up her incision and supercharged the antibiotics to kill the infection. Needless to say she is healed and on the road again taking care of others in need.
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We help evaluate if HBOT is appropriate

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Start HBOT, if appropriate

If our discussion concludes that HBOT is right for your patient, we can get started on treating them.

We’re woman-owned and the longest running
independent hyperbaric clinic in the country.

We’re woman-owned and the longest running independent hyperbaric clinic in the US.

Nearing 25 Years of Experience

Our highly experienced physicians and technicians have provided almost 100,000 treatments since we opened our doors in 1998.

Pain-free. Non-invasive. Relaxing.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a painless, relaxing and non-invasive treatment. Our patients often tell us they feel relaxed and alert after their treatment.

Certified & Approved

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is approved by the American Medical Association, Medicare, the FDA, the Mayo Clinic, and insurance companies to treat a variety of conditions.

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