Hyperbaric Oxygen Heals Radiation Damage to the Breast


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) often halts ongoing radiation damage to breast tissues, bones, and skin [2]. It is also increasingly used as an adjunct to skin grafting in women treated for necrosis of the chest wall after a mastectomy or reconstructive surgery. Skin grafts over tissue that has been damaged by radiation therapy have a lower chance of healing. When such grafts or flaps become compromised, hyperbarics can heal those wounds.

Most insurance companies, as well as Medicare, typically cover the cost of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for damage or non-healing wounds following radiation therapy. HBOT stimulates angiogenesis in hypoxic tissues, correcting the ischemia. New, healthy blood vessels supplying blood and oxygen to damaged tissues 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. However, those that do not resolve are most often responsive to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
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.

How Hyperbarics 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

What the Research Says

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


  1. Patient EQ-5D and NRS pain scores improved
    81% had significant improvements in their NRS pain score.  71% showed improvements in their EQ-5D scores.

    Teguh et al analysis of women undergoing HBOT after breast-conserving therapy (2016)

  2. Patients suffering from soft tissue necrosis
    67 of 74 studies show significant positive results from HBOT for delayed radiation injury

    Feldmeier et al Retrospective

  3. Patients with delayed radiation injuries of the extremeties
    11 of 13 (85%) of cases resolved as a result of hbot

    Feldmeier et al Retrospective

  4. Other Research
    1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a refractory skin ulcer after radical mastectomy and radiation therapy: a case report (Enomoto et al, Nov, 2017). OpenInNewTab

    2. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for breast/chest soft tissue radiation necrosis (Matos et al, Jan, 2022). OpenInNewTab

    3. Hyperbaric Treatment of Delayed Radiation Injury. Cooper et al, August, 2022. OpenInNewTab
    4. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Compromised Graft or Flap (Ashish Francis et al, Jan, 2017.). OpenInNewTab

    5. Hyperbaric Oxygen following Bilateral Skin-sparing Mastectomies: A Case Report. Copeland-Halperin et al April, 2016. OpenInNewTab

    6. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late radiation-induced tissue toxicity: prospectively patient-reported outcome measures in breast cancer patients. Teguh et al, Sept, 2016. . OpenInNewTab

    7. Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunctive treatment for delayed radiation injury of the chest wall: a retrospective review of twenty-three cases. (Feldmeier et al, 1995) OpenInNewTab

Patient Experiences

  • Karen-36-1

    Karen, 36

    After 40 sessions, he recovered from painful clots due to bladder cancer.

    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.

    Continue reading
  • Angelina-43-Beach-1

    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.

    Continue reading
  • Denise-43-1

    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.

    Continue reading

Refer a Patient


Refer a Patient

You submit patient’s information

As a provider, your office fills out and faxes back the Patient Referral Form. Have questions? Call us!

We get authorizations

We make sure the patient understands treatment and then follow the prescribed protocol to get the patient on the road to recovery!

Patient starts HBOT

Our medical staff meets with the patient to ensure that HBOT is appropriatre, and contacts Medicare or private insurance to receive authorization.

Research on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

To learn more about HBOT, take a look at our FAQs.

View all FAQ’s >

  • What is Hyperbaric Medicine?

    Hyperbaric medicine, also called hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT, is a medical treatment where a patient sits or lies in pressurized chamber and breathes 100% oxygen. In HBOT, oxygen dissolves into the blood, thus raising the oxygen concentration to very high levels.This increased oxygen is a primary building block for tissues, muscle, and bone repair. Among other benefits, it kicks off cell reproduction, heals injuries and infection more rapidly, and decreases inflammation.

  • Can HBOT help Neuropathy?

    Hyperbaric treatments help heal neuropathy by regrowing small blood vessels and nerves that have died from disease, injuries from radiation and aging. Patients often experience numbness and or pain when they start treatment. Hyperbaric treatments most often bring back sensation and make, for example, walking easier and more enjoyable.

  • Does HBOT kill cancer cells?

    Current research indicates that hyperbaric oxygen does not kill cancer cells. However, there has been a small amount of research indicating that hyperbaric oxygen might reduce the size of certain tumors. Also, there has been a study on mice using hyperbaric oxygen, along with a ketogenic diet, to reduce tumors. Hyperbaric oxygen causes many different healing modalities to kick into gear. Could its effect on strengthening the immune system inhibit the growth of cancer cells? Nobody knows. There are numerous studies conclusively showing that hyperbaric oxygen does not encourage cancer cells or tumors to grow. Some patients claim the hyperbaric oxygen makes them feel a lot more comfortable and functional after chemotherapy and also during healing. Note that some chemotherapy drugs are not to be used with hyperbaric oxygen, as the chemotherapy drugs can be enhanced and thus become toxic. A good hyperbaric oxygen facility (such as Bay Area Hyperbarics) will always call the chemotherapy manufacturer to ensure that hyperbaric oxygen therapy will be helpful and not damaging to the patient.

  • Why would a physician consider HBOT?

    A physician would consider using hyperbaric chamber therapy under a variety of situations. Physicians most typically refer patients to hyperbarics when the patient is not healing with traditional medical interventions and hyperbaric chamber therapy is approved by Medicare for this condition.

    Some patients experience significant unresolved pain and unremitting disease states that the mechanisms of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber are known to affect, such as the down regulation of inflamatory genes. For an example, some patients have experienced severe, unremitting hives with itching, which did not improve with any specialists interventions.

    Some physicians will consider hyperbaric chamber therapy if the patient has no other good avenues for improving their failing health, and they know the hyperbaric chamber therapy is safe and will not harm the patient.

  • What is the CPT code for HBOT?

    The CPT code for HBOT is G0277.

  • What is Hypebaric Oxygen Therapy?

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HB0T) is a medical treatment where you inhale 100% oxygen in a chamber with increased atmospheric pressure. HBOT injects 400x the oxygen into your tissues and bones and mobilizes stem cells. It regrows healthy tissues in the brain, blood vessels, skin and bones. It also reduces pain and swelling, and speeds recovery.

    It is simple, effective and painless.

  • Does Medicare cover HBOT?

    Medicare covers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for approved conditions, and many insurance companies also cover approved conditions. If your condition is not approved by your insurance, we can discuss our special rates. Give us a call at (408) 356–7438. We are happy to discuss your options with you.