Carboxytherapy: what it is, how it works, benefits, when it is recommended

Carboxytherapy: what it is, how it works, benefits, when it is recommended

Carboxytherapy is an “old” treatment which, in defiance of age, fights the signs of aging and the most hated skin blemishes.

It was born in the ’30s, in France, to combat vascular disorders, and hasn’t retired yet, quite the contrary!

In recent years, the success of carboxytherapy has increased, the technique has improved, becoming more effective, safe and less annoying.

Before being called carboxytherapy this treatment was called “carbon dioxide therapy”. Even this may seem strange: carbon dioxide, CO₂, responsible for environmental pollution and the same gas used to add carbonated drinks. But how does it work? What are the risks? Can everyone do it?

In view of the remise en forme let’s see the pros and cons of this proven treatment.

Carboxytherapy: what is it?

Carboxytherapy is a medical treatment which consists in injecting carbon dioxide in gaseous form into the dermis or subcutaneous tissue, for therapeutic purposes.

What is carbon dioxide or CO₂

Carbon dioxide or dioxide, CO₂, carbon dioxide, are all names that indicate the same chemical compound, one atom of carbon and two of oxygen, which has a specific weight higher than that of air.

Human beings emit it with respiration and it is a natural gas present in the body as a by-product of metabolism which increases with muscular effort. In fact, carbon dioxide is produced in the tissues in relation to the metabolic activity of the tissues themselves: the more there is metabolic activity, the more oxygen (O₂,) is consumed and the more CO₂ is produced as waste gas by the body.

The tissue most subject to changes in metabolic activity is muscle tissue. When muscles come into activity, especially during physical effort, they need more oxygen and therefore produce more carbon dioxide.

Oxygen is supplied by the air we breathe, so to compensate for the need for oxygen, the respiratory activity increases. The latter also serves to eliminate the greater amount of carbon dioxide that is formed in muscular effort.

Instead, under normal conditions, there is a balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide both in the circulating blood and in the tissues, always in relation to the extent of the metabolic activity of the tissues.

CO₂: where is it?

Practically everywhere. Although much less abundant than nitrogen and oxygen, it plays an important role in the Earth’s atmosphere, along with other gases without which the Earth’s temperature would be too cold.

It is also essential in photosynthesis, a biochemical process vital to plant survival and health.

In fact, it is precisely through photosynthesis that plants supply themselves with the nourishment necessary for growth. In practice, plants use CO₂ and water (H₂O) to produce carbohydrates and emit oxygen as a waste product of the whole process. Oxygen, in turn, is an essential element for the life of plants, animals and for man himself.

How carboxytherapy works

Carbon dioxide injected dermally or subcutaneously carries out various types of actions on different systems: on the vascular system, on adipose tissue and on the skin.

At the vascular level, carbon dioxide causes the dilation of arterioles and metarterioles (that is, the vessels that connect the arterioles to the capillaries). This generates an increase in blood flow in the capillary microcirculation.

Instead, as far as adipose tissue is concerned, this gas exerts a lipolytic effect (a metabolic process which involves the splitting of triglycerides allowing the release of free fatty acids and glycerol).

Therefore, the effect is both direct, thanks to the mechanical action of the gas flow which affects the fat deposits, and indirect: the carbon dioxide increases the availability of oxygen in the tissues by reactivating the cellular metabolism.

On the other hand, from a cutaneous point of view, carbon dioxide improves microcirculation and stimulates the activity of fibroblasts, responsible for the production of elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid.

Therefore, the anti-aging effect is given precisely by the production of elastin and collagen which occurs thanks to the stimulation of the connective tissue.

Carboxytherapy also has a purifying effect as it favors the drainage of excess liquids and the disposal of toxins.

Benefits of carboxytherapy

Due to its mechanisms of action, it is effective in the treatment of:

  • Microcirculation disorders including Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  • Venous insufficiency (a condition characterized by insufficient venous return to the heart).
  • Venous and arterial ulcers.
  • Cellulite and adiposity also located on the stomach, buttocks, legs and arms.
  • Skin aging: the face, neck, décolleté, hands, lower eyelids and dark circles can be treated.
  • Stretch marks.
  • Anti-aging treatments of the female genitalia.

This technique has been studied and deepened over time, becoming more and more precise and effective.

Currently carboxytherapy is successfully practiced in the United States, Japan, South Korea, various countries of South America and Europe.

In America there is the Italian Carboxytherapy Society which supervises the guidelines to be practiced. Nowadays this technique is used in many areas of medicine: in dermatology, in aesthetic medicine and in vascular medicine.

In particular, it is extremely useful for all those chronic pathologies which are characterized by a suffering of the microcirculation or which benefit from a better oxygenation of the tissues.

How the treatment takes place

Sterile CO2 is delivered by a specific device, the Medical device for carboxytherapy CE-0051 class IIb. This is equipped with a tank (which contains the sterile carbon dioxide) and a flowmeter which regulates its temperature and flow.

During the session, a doctor inserts a fine needle into the area to be treated and slowly injects the medical CO2. CO2 stimulates local blood flow, improving tissue oxygenation, collagen production and toxin elimination.

This procedure can lead to various aesthetic benefits, such as the reduction of the appearance of cellulite, improved skin tone, as well as a smoother appearance.

The administration into the subcutaneous tissue takes place through extremely thin needles, naturally disposable, connected to the machine through tubes, which are also sterile.

The doctor establishes both the speed with which the gas comes out and the quantity of gas to be injected, following specific therapeutic protocols for each patient and personalizing the treatment according to the problem and sensitivity of the patient.

It is usually performed in several sessions, at regular intervals, for optimal results.

The procedure is generally well tolerated and has few side effects, which may include minor discomfort or a temporary burning sensation at the injection site.

Results before and after

Carboxytherapy is very useful for the health of the microcirculation. Already from the first sessions you will notice a difference between the before and after, therefore a greater skin elasticity, an improvement in the compactness of the cellulite tissue and its reduction.

Given the good results that are obtained, this method has been introduced in various centers of plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine as a technique to be associated with liposuction.

Carboxytherapy: the most common questions

Once the method has been explained, it is normal for questions to arise about a treatment that may seem very invasive at first sight. Here are some helpful answers.

Is it a painful treatment?

The treatment is not completely painless.

The infiltration of CO2 into the tissue gives rise to a temporary subcutaneous emphysema which detaches the tissue causing slight discomfort and sometimes pain, which varies from patient to patient.

The discomfort is greater when the tissue to be treated is compact, as in the case of cellulite with an abundant fibrosclerotic component.

Can I go to work after the session?

After the treatment you can immediately return to your activities.

Nor is it necessary to respect a seasonal calendar: carboxytherapy can also be carried out during the summer. Furthermore, it can also be associated with other aesthetic treatments such as mesotherapy, fillers, lasers and botulinum toxin.

Is carbon dioxide harmful to the body? Using CO2 is not risky. This, in fact, is physiologically produced by the cells of our body.

After being injected, it is absorbed in a few minutes through the blood and eliminated through the respiratory tract.

How many sessions are needed to obtain appreciable results?

A carboxytherapy session lasts from 20 to 40 minutes and varies according to the disorder and the size of the area to be treated.

A therapeutic cycle includes an average of about 10 sessions on a weekly basis but in some cases up to 20 sessions can be reached, when you find yourself treating localized fat deposits or fibrotic cellulite.

The number of sessions depends on the disorder to be treated, its severity and the patient’s response to the treatment. The first results are appreciable after the fourth or fifth session.

How much does a carboxytherapy session cost?

The price of carboxytherapy depends on the area and the disorder to be treated, but in principle a session costs between 80 and 150 euros.

The number of sessions also varies, but a cycle of at least 10-15 sessions is usually recommended to obtain visible and lasting results. In many centers of aesthetic medicine it is then possible to take advantage of packages…