Have you ever been asked the question, “What would you prefer, to be a little too hot or a little too cold?” I’ve always responded to this simple question with a resounding, “Too hot!” I love to be warm, love the sun. Steamy summer night – bring it on. So when I accepted the offer to investigate Buffalo Cryo by stepping inside a chamber ranging between -180 and – 250 degrees Fahrenheit, I thought I might be losing my mind just a tiny bit.
Buffalo Cryo is located on the first floor of the Fairmont Creamery Building at 199 Scott Street. Jacob Fey is a doctor of physical therapy and Patrick Connors has a background in kinesiology and strength and conditioning. Their shared interest in body mechanics and wellness prompted them to open Buffalo Cryo in 2016 to offer a natural treatment for a variety of conditions.
Historically, the benefits of medicinal cold therapy have been known to be used thousands of years ago by the Egyptians. In the late 1970’s Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi, a rheumatologist in Japan, found that by rapidly lowering the skin temperature of the epidermis, an immediate release of endorphins is produced that results in a decreased sensitivity to pain. He found this procedure to be extremely beneficial to his patients dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. This basic principal has been applied to create the modern day cryogenic chamber, like the one found at Buffalo Cryo.
The chamber looks like a large metal cylinder, maybe eight feet high. When I visited Buffalo Cryo, I didn’t know what to expect other than to be cold. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I would only be in said chamber for a total of three minutes. No problem, I thought (insert eye roll).
Upon my visit, Connors directed me to a little changing room. He instructed me to change into the spa-type robe and put on the crew socks that were provided, along with a pair of Croc-type shoes. I didn’t want to tell him that the socks and shoes didn’t really match the spa aesthetic I was imagining, but I kind of rocked it, so I proceeded out to the chamber room where nitrogen gas was billowing over the top of the chamber. It was really quite futuristic looking and I could just feel myself getting hipper by the second.
I put on a pair of insulated mittens and was ready for my experience to begin. But first Connors took a skin temperature reading of 86 degrees on my calf. I stepped into the chamber and closed the door. As instructed, I took off my robe and handed it over the top of the chamber to Connors who then elevated the platform I was standing on just so that my head was popping out over the top of the chamber.
For the duration of the three minutes Connors talked to me about the whole process and the benefits, partially so that the time would quickly go by. And it did just that. He informed me that the socks, shoes, and mittens are worn to avoid extremities from getting too cold. My arms and hands were inside the chamber at my side. He told me that I could move my legs around if I felt the need. Yes, I did, it was getting cold, but not the way I had anticipated. Connors explained that this cold was a result of dry nitrogen gas, which is very different than sharp, wet cold we experience during the winter. He went on to say that the goal of cryotherapy is to decrease the skin temperature by twenty degrees or more, initiating a nervous system reaction. The internal body temperature is not manipulated whatsoever.
For the last 30 seconds or so, the gloves came off and my arms were placed over the side of the chamber. After the full three minutes, the nitrogen turned off, the platform was lowered, I was given back the robe, and I quickly walked out of the chamber for a skin reading of 47 degrees. My skin temperature had dropped 39 degrees in three minutes. I was told that my session began at -180 degrees Fahrenheit and finished at a frigid -205 degrees. Yikes!
While inside the chamber, Connors had mentioned something about a possible euphoric feeling afterward due to an endorphin rush. There honestly was a wonderful feeling, and I didn’t feel chilled. I brought along a sweatshirt and sweatpants thinking I would be freezing afterward. To the contrary, what I felt was refreshed. My skin felt cold to the touch, but not that terrible chilled to the bone feeling. It was actually a very nice sensation, perhaps euphoric fits that description. But for those who may need a little warming up afterward, an area is set up with a stationary bike to get you feeling back to normal.
So what exactly can this do and for whom?
For a quick answer to the latter, just about anyone can benefit from cryotherapy, whether you are recovering from an injury, looking to enhance athletic performance, or trying to get a better night’s sleep, cryotherapy can help. Moreover, after a session, an increase in metabolism occurs throughout the day resulting in an additional high caloric burn of up to 500 calories.
Connors says that the bulk of their clients are athletes ranging from young kids in high school sports, to middle-aged fitness enthusiasts, to professional athletes including some of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres.
For those recovering from an injury or recent surgery, cryotherapy is used in conjunction with physical therapy to relieve inflammation and to help increase range of motion. For those looking to enhance athletic performance, depending on the type of sport determines when to chill. With any resistance training, such as weightlifting, it is best to come in after a workout. For aerobic activities, such as running or swimming, step into the chamber 30 minutes to two hours beforehand. Cryotherapy also improves sleep due to regulation of the thyroid, and many veterans and elderly clients partake for this important benefit.
Cryotherapy is also recommended for anyone managing an autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, crones, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as neurological disorders such as restless leg syndrome. Connors recommends once a week treatments to manage symptoms, and more frequently during a flare-up.
Now that was not the end of my experience at Buffalo Cryo. Next up was a Cryo Facial administered by Danielle Fanara, licensed aesthetician.
During the facial I lay on the facial bed with my eyes closed. A localized cryo machine was employed for a 15 minute treatment of pure delight. The machine allows for a temperature of – 250 degrees Fahrenheit of nitrogen gas to be administered 6 inches from the skin. Particular trouble areas of the skin can be targeted such as crows feet around the eyes, “the elevens” between the brows, and laugh lines around the mouth.
During the facial, the skin and pores tighten from the cold air, the skin lifts while glorious collagen is produced for a youthful glow. While I was receiving the facial, I could feel my skin tightening. Again, it was a refreshing feeling, not uncomfortable whatsoever, that felt particularly wonderful into and along the hairline. The final few minutes I sat up and the cold air was concentrated on the back of my neck and head. Magical.
I do not particularly care for massages and traditional facials. Call me crazy, but I just don’t enjoy laying for extended periods of time, I’m just too antsy. This 15 minute treat was just perfect, pure bliss.
For those with regular skin who are looking for anti-aging benefits, Fanara recommends once a week treatments for 5 weeks followed by monthly maintenance. Inflammatory conditions such as rosacea, acne, psoriasis, and eczema can benefit from 2-3 treatments per week during a flare-up with once a month maintenance.
Fanara has been amazed most by the relief she sees in clients who come to her to treat migraines. “I have clients who come in in the midst of a migraine who can barely keep their eyes open due to the pain, and leave here after a facial feeling good as new.” She says for migraine pain she concentrates treatment into the hairline and the back of head and neck, and maintains that with regular treatments clients say they remain migraine free.
There is no prep for the facial treatments. The facials can even be administered to someone in full make-up. The effect with make-up, Fanara says, is an air-brushed look that many bridal parties seek. The localized machine is portable, so Fanara has gone to many events to give women their finished look.
Fanara told me that I would begin to see that collagen glow 30 minutes after the treatment and into the next day or two. She was right, my skin looked smoother, tighter, and dare I say down-right youthful.
As for the effects of the chamber. I have chronic lower back pain from osteoarthritis. The night of my treatment I honestly did not feel the pain I normally do at night. Though the next night it was back, I wonder if with regular treatments it would help. Connors mentioned that the localized machine can also target specific joints for acute pain due to arthritis or injury. My foot, for example, would be a perfect target for such a treatment after a poorly recovered break years ago.
Check out Buffalo Cryo’s website for pricing, to book a procedure, or for more information. Take it from me, it’s a great place to chill out!