Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Heals Radionecrosis of the Mouth, Head and Neck


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) often halts ongoing radiation damage to breast tissues, bones, and skin[1] . 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[2].

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 Hyperbarics Helps

  • Stimulates angiogenesis of the radiated bed
  • Salvages threatened breast soft tissue reconstruction
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces fibrosis, softens connective fibrous tissue
  • Mobilizes and increases stem cells
  • Effective in wound closure and resolving contraction
  • Corrects ischemia
  • Resolves infection

What the Research Says

Several studies highlight benefits of HBOT in healing radiation damage to the mouth, head and neck. Here is a subset:


  1. Patients suffering from soft tissue necrosis
    8 of 8 cases resolved

    Feldmeier et al Retrospective

  2. Patients’ Experiences
    8 of 15 cases resolved*

    Feldmeier et al Retrospective

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

    Matos et al Retrospective

  4. Patients suffering from pain in breast after radiation and breast conservation
    Pre HBOT 66.7% Post HBOT 14.5%

    Teguh et al Prospective

  5. Patients suffering from pain in arms & shoulders after radiation and breast conservation
    Pre HBOT 46.4% Post HBOT 16.7%

    Teguh et al Prospective

  6. Hyperbaric oxygen as an adjunctive treatment for delayed radiation injury of the chest wall: a retrospective review of 23 cases.
    1. Since 1979, 23 cases of radiation-induced chest wall necrosis have been treated in the Hyperbaric Medicine Departments of Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital and the Nix Hospital, San Antonio, Texas. Eight cases involved soft tissue only.

    1. Hyperbaric, Delayed Radiation Injury

      There will be 1.2 million cases of invasive cancer diagnosed in the United States this year. Half of those patients will receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment program. Serious radiation complications will occur in 5% of patients receiving radiation therapy.

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

      Radiation therapy is performed as an adjuvant therapy when indicated following surgical resection of malignant tumors. However, radiation exposure induces acute or chronic dermatitis, depending on the radiation dose, interval, tissue volume, or irradiated area of the body.

    1. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Compromised Graft or Flap

      Tissue grafts and flaps are used to reconstruct wounds from trauma, chronic disease, tumor extirpation, burns, and infection. Despite careful surgical planning and execution, reconstructive failure can occur due to poor wound beds, radiation, random flap necrosis, vascular insufficiency, or ischemia–reperfusion (IR).

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

      We describe a patient in whom bilateral skin flap ischemia developed after nipple-sparing mastectomies. Tissue expander reconstruction was successfully salvaged with HbO therapy. Clinicians should consider the potential benefits and risks of early postoperative HBOT

    1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for late radiation-induced tissue toxicity: prospectively patient-reported outcome measures in breast cancer patients

      Fifty-seven women were available for evaluation before and after treatment. Before HBOT, patients had severe complaints of pain in the arm/shoulder (46 %), swollen arm/hand (14 %), difficulty to raise arm or move it sideways (45 %)

Patient Experiences

  • Lorraine-46-pic

    Lorraine, 46

    Strengthened bones in her jaw and healed open sores

    Lorraine was about to lose several teeth, because the bones in her jaw were weakened by radiation from cancer treatments.

    HBOT strengthened her bones and healed open sores in her mouth that her oral surgeon told her would otherwise not heal. At Bay Area Hyperbarics, we have treated patients for 20 years with radiation damage from treating oral cancers. HBOT has help them return to normal lives. Our patients tell us it also seems to heal their fatigue from “chemo brain” and radiation so they get their energy back. We can help you or your loved one too.

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  • Fiona-62-min-1

    Fiona, 62

    Cured her bone infection, regrew bones and gums, and she regained her previous energy

    Fiona, a lively and proud mother of five grown children and an avid gardener, had received radiation many years earlier, which had damaged her bone.

    It caused a severe infection in the bones in the roof of her mouth. In addition, Fiona was concerned about her low energy levels. She had tried everything, including antibiotics. When she received HBOT along with antibiotics, it cured the bone infection in her mouth. It healed and regrew her bones and gums. Fiona also said that her energy levels had also returned sufficiently that she could again garden, which she said was fundamental to her sense of well-being

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  • Howard-74-pic

    Howard, 74

    Stabilized teeth, healed his mouth sores and increased weight to a healthy level.

    Howard had very painful open sores in his mouth resulting from his cancer treatment. He had already lost a few teeth.

    What worried his son is that he had lost too much weight. HBOT stabilized two loose teeth and healed his mouth sores, allowing him to return to a healthy weight.

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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 Therapy

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

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  • 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.

8 of 8 cases resolved

Feldmeier et al Retrospective