Cryotherapy — the application of extreme cold to freeze and remove abnormal tissue – has been used for decades to treat skin conditions such as warts, skin tags and precancerous spots. More recently, medispas and dermatology practices are using it in cosmetics to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, shrink pores and improve blood circulation.
Supposedly, these cryofacial products can eliminate puffiness and redness, minimize pores, stimulate circulation, and oxygenate the skin. Some TikTokers even claimed that some frozen bursts of beauty erased their stubborn acne.
The only problem: real cryotherapy cannot be replicated at home because it requires the use of liquid nitrogen at extremely low temperatures.
“Cryotherapy, which uses very, very cold liquid nitrogen between -240 and -320 degrees Fahrenheit, is so effective because it can get very cold,” said Dr. Kachiu C. Lee, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pennsylvania, says HuffPost.
“Your home freezer won’t be cold enough to get those long-lasting effects that medical-grade or even medispa-grade cryotherapy can do.”
And the use of liquid nitrogen “is not repeatable because when it heats up, it turns into a gas,” Lee explained.
What can you really expect from home cryofacial products?
Apply these not so cold home appliances on your face means that their purported results – such as smaller pores, improved circulation and reduced inflammation – won’t last very long.
“When your skin is cooler, your pores will look smaller, and while your face is cold, you’ll look different than when you’re flushed and flushed,” said Los Angeles-based Dr. Tanya Kormeili. , certified dermatologist. “But it’s not a lasting effect.”
She noted that bone structure actually dictates pore size — and none of these devices will change your bone structure.
The oxygenation of the skin also begins from the inside. “You oxygenate the skin through good blood circulation,” said Dr. Nanette B. Silverberg, chief of pediatric dermatology at Mount Sinai Health System. “What you really want is a reduction in inflammation in your skin and agents that help keep your pores open, that help block hormonal activity in the skin.”
“These products that aren’t super cold may briefly give you some reduction in focal swelling and inflammation, but there may be a risk,” she said, citing adverse results like loss of pigmentation.
Silverberg also pointed out that “the top layer of your skin regenerates in seven days, so your facial wears off in about a week, at best.”
Professional cryotherapy can help with acne due to its ability to freeze sebaceous glands and prevent them from producing as much sebum, bBut “the sebaceous glands are all the depths of your skin,” Lee said.
“With cryotherapy, you can only safely let it in without burning the top of your epidermis or skin. I don’t think home cryofacials are cold enough or can penetrate deep enough.
What risks are associated with home cryofacials?
Dermatologists who spoke to HuffPost agreed that the risks of at-home cryofacials far outweigh the short-term benefits.
“There’s a lot of discoloration and scarring that results from cryotherapy, so it’s always concerned me about [using] these products outside of a dermatologist’s office,” Silverberg said, adding that the risk of pigmentation loss increases with age. “An older woman may have permanent loss of pigmentation.”
Leaving these cold devices on the skin for too long can even cause burns. “You can actually burn yourself quite badly with the cold,” Kormeili said. “As dermatologists, when we say soft ice, I tell them, ‘Take the ice, put it in a bag, put the bag in a towel. You want to feel cool but not cold. Remove it every 20 minutes. Allow your skin to return to normal temperature. Cool it again.
“If you leave it long enough, you can actually shed all your skin and have an ulcer. And then it has to heal and you have to make sure it doesn’t get infected.
Eczema — who causes dry skin, itchy skin, rashes, scaly patches, blisters, and skin infections – can also be a concern. “By keeping skin chronically cold, you can get eczema because skin likes to be in optimal pH, optimal temperature, optimal amount of moisture,” Kormeili said.
Lee said people who are sensitive to cold or have connective tissue disorders should be especially wary of at-home cryofacial technology. “because the skin can’t tell you when it’s too cold and about to fracture.”
“It’s not like a gradual incline where there are warning signs that it’s going to be cold. It’s really like you go half a second too far and burn yourself out,” she said.
What to try instead
Silverberg urged anyone trying to improve fine lines and wrinkles, acne, scars or uneven skin tone for opt for scientifically proven effective treatments like chemical peels and laser resurfacing. “They are very well understood and they give a more superficial depth of peeling,” she said. “As long as you don’t do the deeper forms of chemical peels, you don’t have those kinds of pigmentation risks.”
Kormeili recommended Vitamin A Cream (aka retinol). “We’ve known for decades and decades that prescription vitamin A could actually help with oil production, shrink pores, [produce] collagen,” she said. “A tube of this cream is cheaper than most products you’ll find at Neiman Marcus, and it lasts a long time because you only need a little bit.”
For acne, Kormeili said prescription medications can help control breakouts. She also noted that different types of acne require different types of treatment, which a dermatologist can help you understand.
“If you have acne breakouts every month, your hormones are going crazy, putting an ice cube on your face isn’t going to control your hormones,” Kormeili said. “But if you have clogged pores, what really helps is getting rid of the bacteria.”
How can these products exist if they are not very effective?
Lee clarified that the Food and Drug Administration only allows at-home cryofacial products on the market because they don’t claim to “biologically modify the skin.”
“Over-the-counter products can make claims as long as they don’t actually claim to alter the integrity or structure of the skin, which they don’t,” she said. “They just talk about things like surface change that aren’t regulated by the FDA.”
Ultimately, “there’s really no science behind it,” Lee concluded of at-home cryofacials. “Medical-grade cryotherapy and medispa-grade therapy are based on good science, but it’s a huge leap to assume that the same theories will apply to home cryotherapy.”