Fast-tracking your recovery for increased peace of mind
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) delivers a high concentration of oxygen in a pressurized environment, offering distinct therapeutic benefits. HBOT promotes rapid healing and recovery, making it an ideal adjunct for anyone recuperating from gender confirmation surgery. HBOT is a safe, non-invasive, drug-free therapy that has been used for decades with remarkable results.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
The air we breathe contains 21% oxygen. By providing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, we are able to deliver up to 18 times that which can be provided by breathing normally. This “hyperbaric” (or high pressure) concentration of oxygen offers distinct therapeutic benefits by raising the amount of dissolved oxygen in blood plasma. This results in enhanced oxygen delivery to bodily tissues, promoting expedited healing and recovery. Since gender confirmation surgery often requires multiple procedures performed in tandem, HBOT is an invaluable asset on the road to recuperation.
What are the benefits of HBOT?
- Speeds up wound healing
- Fights off life-threatening infections
- Increases circulation
- Promotes healing in damaged tissue
- Drug-free and non-invasive
- Ideal complement to gender confirmation surgeries
How does HBOT assist in gender confirmation surgery?
Gender affirmation is a multi-faceted process which includes highly specialized surgeries. While these surgeries are quite varied, they commonly utilize state-of-the-art grafting and flap techniques to achieve desired cosmetic and functional results. These techniques can carry with them inherent compromise of blood supply to the affected tissues. Additionally, the locations and complicated nature of these techniques place them at potential risk for infection and tissue loss.
While all of the procedures associated with gender affirmation have achieved incredible results, advances in adjunctive therapies are now available to the transgender community to enhance both cosmetic and functional results.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is one such therapy. HBOT has afforded past patients undergoing flap and graft surgery enormous benefits for many years. Historically, these patients have either had complications from severe diabetes or they have undergone radiation therapy. Now, this modality is finally available to the transgender community.
How does HBOT optimize healing?
At their core, surgeries associated with gender affirmation are both cosmetic and functional. While these goals are individualized for each patient, their achievement is predicated on the process of tissue healing. Optimizing the healing process can help the patient maximize their likelihood for the best outcomes possible. HBOT is highly effective in all transfeminine/transmasculine/non-binary/gender-diverse/gender-expansive operations of the face, body, and genital region.
The final appearance of a cosmetic surgical procedure is enhanced when:
- Edema is avoided/minimized
- Infection is avoided/minimized
- Tissue loss is avoided/minimized
Through the mechanisms listed above, HBOT dramatically reduces edema, controls/mitigates infection, promotes healthy wound healing, and reduces tissue loss and necrosis. In doing so, reconstructed tissues heal more rapidly, appear more “natural”, and the visual scarring associated with these surgeries can be less noticeable.
The final functionality associated with gender affirmation surgeries (especially bottom surgeries) is dependent upon multiple factors. One very important factor is the quality of the scar tissue that is laid down during the healing process. This is where HBOT can be especially helpful.
“Normal” scar tissue is laid down in a chaotic, unorganized fashion. The resulting scar tissue is typically quite firm and non-elastic. Not only does this scar tissue feel different from uninjured tissue, it functions less “naturally” from uninjured tissue. As an example, the “normal” scarring that occurs after a vaginoplasty leaves the tissue in the new vaginal vault somewhat contracted, with reduced ability to stretch. It is, therefore, routinely necessary to utilize a graduated series of dilators post-operatively to recondition the vagina to allow for penetration during intercourse.
Creating more viable scar tissue with HBOT
Fortunately, utilizing HBOT post-operatively can be tremendously helpful in this area. When healing occurs utilizing HBOT, scar tissue (collagen) is laid down in an organized manner, resulting in new scar tissue that has elastic properties similar to “natural” tissue.
HBOT can help to produce tissue that is functionally similar to “natural” tissue, and is more amenable to the recommended post-operative dilation regimen. Similarly, in phalloplasties and urethral reconstruction, the goal of HBOT is to promote healthy wound healing and more structured collagen deposition, which can help to reduce urethral strictures and fistulas, and minimize the need for complicated revisionary procedures.
In facial operations, HBOT can substantially reduce post-operative swelling, minimize scarring, and help promote nerve regeneration in the chin and scalp (areas which oftentimes remain numb for extended periods of time due to the trauma of the operation).
For body operations (and all operations in general), HBOT can promote healthier wound healing, less inflammation, faster recovery, and less scarring.
HERE’S THE SCIENCE:
- Hyper-oxygenation: The delivery of 100% oxygen in a hyperbaric environment (under pressure simulating diving about 40 feet underwater) provides up to 18 times normal oxygen concentration to all tissues within the body. This oxygen supersaturation is the cornerstone to the efficacy of this therapy.
- Direct Pressure to Oxygen Molecules: Inside the hyperbaric chamber, oxygen molecules are compressed and become more soluble, obeying the scientific principles of Boyle’s Universal Gas Law. This phenomenon allows oxygen to effortlessly cross cell membranes and enter all of the body’s fluid systems, including plasma, synovial, lymphatic, interstitial (between cells) and cerebrospinal fluids. Normally, only the red blood cells are capable of transporting oxygen throughout the body. Now, all body fluids combine to provide alternate transport routes for extra oxygen. Typically, there is very limited blood supply to certain areas (e.g., joints, cartilage, tendon, ligament). Under HBOT, these areas are now flooded with oxygen-rich fluid needed for healing and recovery.
- Bactericidal Ammunition, Aids in Killing Bacteria: Conditions created within the hyperbaric oxygen chamber are not favorable for the viability of bacteria, fungi and viruses–organisms that cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment. White blood cells (leukocytes) enjoy enhanced ability to fight bacterial/viral/fungal infections in an oxygen-enriched environment as well.
- Angiogenesis–The Formation of New Blood Vessels: HBOT stimulates the body to grow new capillaries (angiogenesis). The resulting neovascularization is extremely helpful for reaching tissues that have restricted blood flow (ischemic areas) as well as areas of the body that are lacking or compromised in available oxygen (hypoxic areas). This is particularly beneficial in areas of the body that have undergone surgery which will have decreased blood flow and oxygen levels.
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) Stimulation–Enhanced Antioxidant Capabilities: Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is an important enzyme found in human cells that inactivates superoxides, the most common free radicals in the body, responsible for destruction of cells. HBOT stimulates SOD production thereby helping the body to rid itself of the byproducts of inflammation and damaging free radicals.
- Synergy With Antibiotics: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to create a synergistic effect when administered in conjunction with certain antibiotics. Administration of HBOT biomechanically potentiates the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy. The capabilities of sulfonamides are increased up to ten-fold when HBOT is added.
- Improves Osteoblast and Osteoclast Production: Faster and enhanced regeneration of bone is derived from hyperbaric oxygen’s ability to stimulate and increase production of specialized cells (osteoblasts and osteoclasts) responsible for bone repair and formation.
- Increases Fibroblast and Collagen Production: Collagen, an essential building block of connective-tissue, tendon and skin matrix provides the structural framework throughout the body and plays a critical role in wound healing. In a hyperbaric oxygen environment, collagen is deposited in a far more organized fashion, making the repair far more “functional” with significantly enhanced tensile strength. Fibroblast reproduction and growth (essential to collagen deposition) are aided by the increased availability of oxygen achieved in a hyperbaric oxygen environment.
- Decreases Inflammation: Inflammation, one of the most common consequences of disease and injury, results from biochemical byproducts manufactured by the body’s natural immune response. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy markedly decreases inflammation by stimulating the body’s own anti-inflammatory defenses. This may be the single most important function of HBOT.
- Enhanced Stem Cell Migration: As a response to acute injury, the body’s existing stem cells are stimulated to migrate to the site of injury. In a hyperbaric oxygen environment, this stem cell response is significantly enhanced. As a result, healing occurs more rapidly, and the resulting repair more closely resembles functionally normal tissue.
What is the take-away regarding HBOT?
Combining state-of-the-art surgical techniques with the adjunct of hyperbaric oxygen therapy will lead to an accelerated and improved healing process. Once completed, the patient is best positioned to continue on the journey of their dreams. Healed with respect. Healed with compassion.
What is the next step?
The 8th Element Hyperbaric Medicine facility location is currently in Daly City, CA. Additional centers are being planned for other locations throughout the Bay Area. For more information, please contact our 8th Element Hyperbaric Medicine team using the information below:
8th Element Hyperbaric Medicine
901 Campus Drive, Suite 206B
Daly City, CA 94015
Main Phone Number: 650-356-8800
General Email for Inquiries: [email protected]