Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves exposing the body to 100 percent oxygen at a pressure that is greater than what you normally experience. Wounds need oxygen to heal properly, and exposing a wound to 100 percent oxygen can, in many cases, speed the healing process.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be done in a number of ways. It can be given in a special type of room called a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. In this setting, you are completely immersed in 100 percent oxygen delivered at high pressure. It can also be given through a gas mask, which delivers 100 percent oxygen to your lungs. The rest of your body is at normal oxygen levels, but still under higher pressure than normal. In some instances, “topical” hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be applied to just one part of the body. If the wound is on your leg, for example, your leg could be wrapped in a plastic bag that is filled with 100 percent oxygen under pressure. Although this localized form of topical oxygen therapy is easier to do and more affordable, its effectiveness, compared with the other forms of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is questionable, according to the latest research.
Reasons for the procedure
A number of studies have shown that hyperbaric oxygen therapy does speed wound healing for many types of wounds. Research has shown that it’s helpful for:
Delayed radiation injuries
Soft tissue infections
Certain skin grafts and flaps
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is effective at healing wounds and, in turn, reducing your risk for amputation, particularly if you have diabetes.
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