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What it is, what it's supposed to do

Article by Patrick Sullivan

Photography by kc kratt

In simple terms, cryotherapy is a procedure in which the human body is exposed to very cold temperatures for a few minutes. This may initially sound unappealing, but fans and practitioners claim a wide range of benefits from this treatment.

Buffalo Cryo opened in Buffalo in 2016. It’s owned and operated by Dr. Jacob Fey; Fey initially trained in cryogenic equipment while serving in the US Navy and received his MD from UB.

How it works

Before entering the Cryosauna, clients are asked to fill out a short history of their medical information and identify any issues they wish to address during the procedure. Then, users step into the cylindrical Cryosauna chamber and are exposed to cold nitrogen gas, which is converted from liquid form. The experience exposes ninety-five percent of the body from the neck down; users wear provided socks, shoes, gloves, and their own undergarments while in the Cryosauna. It can become as cold as -256 degrees F, but, for a first session, the recommended temperature is -150 degrees F, with temperature decreasing as sessions progress. 

The user stays in the sauna for three minutes, steps out, and  performs light cardio exercise for two to three minutes to get the body temperature back up. The cold penetrates only three millimeters into the skin, and this, combined with the quick time spent in the sauna, keeps the risk of freezing low, so the user does not become hypothermic. Skin temperature is measured before and after the process. There is an ideal lowering of temperature that Fey and Connors look for. "We typically like to see a minimum twenty-degree-drop in skin temperature when the client steps out of the Cryosauna" says Fey. A skin temperature of forty degrees F or below can typically be expected after using the sauna. Fey compares the process to being in an ice bath: "First there is just cold, then warmth, and finally a tingling or numb sensation. At this point, someone would take themselves out of the ice bath, which at max, should only last about ten minutes. Our process only lasts three."

Fey tries to keep clients relaxed and at ease, especially during the first experience. He keeps the atmosphere causal, dressing casually and using an informal manner so the process doesn't seem overly clinical. Costs for the sessions depend on how often clients come in for treatment.

What are the possible benefits of cryotherapy?

Most cryotherapy clients have either chronic pain/disease or some type of injury. The process, according to Fey, is helpful in relaxing muscles and making pain easier to deal with. There are also benefits for skin, caloric burning, and increases in metabolism. The three categories of benefits listed on the Buffalo Cryo website include athletic benefits, pain alleviation, and skin/beauty. Fey notes that his clients have heard about the process through word of mouth or through recommendations from health care providers. Professionals like chiropractors, massage therapists, and even primary care physicians have referred patients and clients to Buffalo Cryo.

Buffalo Cryo

199 Scott Street, or 436-5341

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