Hyper-Baric Oxygen therapy and its Anti-aging effects


Hyper-Baric Oxygen therapy and its Anti-aging effects

Since the dawn of life, humans have been looking for ways to prolong their life by curing or stopping disease and the use of other ways to slow down the ageing process. Numerous techniques like consuming a well-balanced diet & regular workouts are recommended by researchers as being potent in slowing down the aging process but they aren’t very effective.

Other than these healthy lifestyle ideas, some new methods have shown promise in anti-aging regimes i.e. Stem cell therapy, Plasma Cell Transfusion, Seno-therapeutics, Anti-inflammatory therapy, Anti-Oxidant therapy, are under research, but all of these are either invasive or little research supports their efficacy [1]

In these options, a new method has emerged that is not invasive nor under-researched; that is the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy which has shown quite promise in clinical trials for Anti-Aging regimes.

Let’s start first by discussing what Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Breaking down the constituent words, Hyper means “increased” & baric means “pressure”, Hyperbaric-Oxygen-Therapy simply means treatment that involves providing 100% pure Oxygen at high pressure (about twice or thrice that of normal pressure in air). 

It is a new and promising method of treating many conditions in which conventional methods of treatment have failed to adequately treat the condition & in those where lack of oxygen might be one of the causative factors i.e. aging [6] Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can overcome the shortage of Oxygen abruptly thus proving efficient in the treatment of such conditions.

 One such condition for which Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an emergent option is natural process aging. Let’s talk more about it

Figure: Patient lying in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.

What is Aging?

Aging is the natural process of growing older, accompanied by a gradual loss of normal functions of organs of the body, leading to weakness and increased susceptibility to diseases. 

Everyone wants to look and function as they did in their 20s even when they are beyond 60. This urge to look like their peak days has led researchers to study mechanisms of aging and subsequently look for ways to slow it down!

Skin being the most visible and largest organ of the body is no exception to the aging process and slowly gets wrinkled or gets fine lines as the years pass by. Skin is perhaps the most looked-after organ and hence there is an obvious need for it to stop aging. Let’s have a look at how skin ages!

How skin undergoes aging process?

The skin undergoes an aging process primarily by two mechanisms; intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic referring to internal aging aka chronological aging is the basic process of aging that occurs in all the organs of the body.

Another type of aging that skin undergoes known as extrinsic aging is due to exposure to environmental factors like sunlight, smoking, and dietary intake. Sunlight is the primary factor in aging process through its Ultraviolet Radiation particularly the UV-B type. UV-B speeds up wrinkle formation as we age apart from the influence of genetic factors. [2]

Figure showing how UV-B promotes wrinkle formation by stimulating pathways such as Elastase, Matrix Metalloproteinase factor (MMP) & Vaculo-Endothelial Growth Factors (VEGF) which further result in Angiogenesis leading to wrinkle formation. All the pathways are inhibited by a high concentration of Oxygen as provided in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy {2}

Collagen production also decreases as we age due to lesser fibroblast mobilization. Elastin production is either impaired or it is degraded quickly by Elastase; this leads to a weaker extracellular matrix. [4] Another factor that contributes to aging process is decreased tissue perfusion by Oxygen due to lesser number of available blood vessels due to reduced angiogenic capability. [6]

Women also are at a genetic disadvantage of developing more wrinkles. Smokers and people who consume a carbohydrate-rich diet are also prone to more wrinkle formation. However Vitamin C & Linoleic Acid consumption decrease wrinkles. [2]

At a micro level aging is attributed primarily to shortening of telomeres, which are protective shields at the end of a chromosome which contains DNA. They prevent chromosomes from sticking to each other. As we age, these telomeres decrease in size leaving us more susceptible to diseases. Another factor that presents at the micro level is an increase in the level of senescent cells like melanocytes.

Anti-aging effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Despite the previous knowledge that Oxygen (due to its production of Reactive Oxygen species) speeds up process of aging, new research suggests that only acute provision of high-pressure Oxygen is harmful and that continued Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy sessions are quite beneficial in slowing down skin aging!

A Pioneer study at Tel Aviv University was the first to demonstrate this effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. 35 healthy individuals aged 64 or more that consented to trial were scheduled for 60 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy sessions over 1 and a half months.

Before the study blood samples were taken, which were repeated during and after the end of 60 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy sessions. Factors such as Telomere length and presence of senescent cells were studied.

Post-therapy results were amazing. For the first time, telomere shortening was reversed at a rate of up to 20 to 38%, a groundbreaking result in field of anti-aging therapies. Blood samples also indicated a decrease in senescent cells by up to 37%. [5]

This success in Tel Aviv has inspired more studies on the Anti-Aging effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Another clinical trial was conducted which consisted of 13 male patients aged over 68 who consented to multiple skin biopsies to study the effect of Hyper-baric Oxygen Therapy. The study spanned over 6 months which consisted of a 3-month control period followed by a 3-month Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Phase in which skin was directly exposed.

Skin biopsies were taken at start of the study, after a 3-month control period, and 2 weeks after the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy ended. Results at the end of the study were promising; an increase in the density of collagen, elastic fiber lengths as well as in the number of blood vessels perfusing the skin were recorded. These indicated improved skin health after 3 months of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy sessions. An additional positive parameter was a decrease in the number of senescent cells in the blood. [6]

Anti-Aging Effects on hyperbaric oxygen therapy on brain

The brain consumes most amount of oxygen despite not being the largest organ in the body. It might be considered by some as the most important organ of the body. As we age, the brain gets older too resulting in impairment of cognitive skills. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has demonstrated improvement in multitasking and other cognitive tasks in adults aged 22 to 68. [8] Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy has also been demonstrated to be the most effective and probably the only disease-reversing therapy available for Alzheimer’s disease.[14]

Anti-Aging Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on Metabolism?

Diabetes is one the most common conditions that the aged are suffering from today. Hyperbaric Oyxgen Therapy has also proven its effectiveness in increasing the uptake of Insulin by cells thus preventing diabetes [10]. This effect was also aided by another study which resulted in a reduction of Diabetes type 2 development markers i.e. TNF- alpha, Interleukin-6, and accumulated glycation end products (AGEs). [9]

Even after the development of diabetes, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy was effective in controlling it as indicated by a reduction in HbA1c levels; which indicates level of blood sugar control in the past 120 days. [10]

Anti- Aging Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on other organs

Skeletal Muscles: 

As we age there’s a decrease in muscle activity and strength, this is attributed to a decline in their capacity to utilize oxygen. Study indicates that this decline in capacity can be reversed by mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy. [11]


The heart is the most vital organ involved in circulating blood throughout the body and thus maintaining oxygen perfusion. With age, the heart’s ability to contract and pump blood declines. This aging effect seemed to improve in a study that consisted of asymptomatic aged patients exposed to 60 sessions of 2ATA Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy sessions; this resulted in improved ventricular pumping function.[12]

Pulmonary system:

A study recorded an improvement in the Forced Vital Capacity of lung disease patients after 60 sessions of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy [13

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy exerts its anti-effects?

Several mechanisms have been studied and proposed that try to explain the anti-aging effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. One such study is discussed below:

The figure above postulates different ways by which Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy exerts its Anti Aging effects [7]

  • Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy stimulates stem cell mobilization which further develops into Endothelial cells that develop into vessels.
  • Directly enhances Angiogenesis by upregulation of many factors such as the Vasculo-Endothelial Growth Factor.
  • Reduces Inflammation by down-regulating inflammatory mediators such as Interleukins.
  • Enhances Anti-oxidant defenses.
  • Inhibits/reverses telomere shortening


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an emerging and promising perspective in the field of esthetic medicine. It is non-invasive, unlike other available anti-aging treatment options. It is under constant research and is being used in many esthetic clinics. Its anti-aging effects are not only limited to skin but expand to all the organs of body including brain, heart, and pulmonary system. This option should be used more and more instead of unnatural options such as botox injections and fillers. More research will pave the way easier for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to be a more commonly practiced option on esthetics.


  1. Zhang S, Duan E. Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside. Cell Transplant. 2018; 27:729–38. 10.1177/0963689717725755
  2. Asadamongkol, B., & Zhang, J. H. (2014). The development of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for skin rejuvenation and treatment of photoaging. Medical Gas Research, 4, 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-9912-4-7
  3. Ishii Y, Miyanaga Y, Shimojo H, Ushida T, Tateishi T. Effects of hyperbaric oxygen on procollagen messenger RNA levels and collagen synthesis in the healing of rat tendon laceration. Tissue Eng. 1999;5(3):279–286. doi: 10.1089/ten.1999.5.279
  4. McCullough J, Kelly K. Prevention and treatment of skin aging. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006;1067:323–331. doi: 10.1196/annals.1354.044
  5. [American Friends of Tel Aviv University. “Hyperbaric oxygen treatment: Clinical trial reverses two biological processes associated with aging in human cells.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201120150728.htm>.
  6. Hachmo, Y., Hadanny, A., Mendelovic, S., Hillman, P., Shapira, E., Landau, G., Gattegno, H., Zrachya, A., Daniel-Kotovsky, M., Catalogna, M., Fishlev, G., Lang, E., Polak, N., Doenyas, K., Friedman, M., Zemel, Y., Bechor, Y., & Efrati, S. (2021). The effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the pathophysiology of skin aging: a prospective clinical trial. Aging (Albany NY), 13(22), 24500-24510. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.203701
  7. Fu, Q., Duan, R., Sun, Y., & Li, Q. (2022). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for healthy aging: From mechanisms to therapeutics. Redox Biology, 53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2022.102352
  8. Yu R., Wang B., Li S., et al. Cognitive enhancement of healthy young adults with hyperbaric oxygen: a preliminary resting-state fMRI study. Clin. Neurophysiol. 2015;126:2058–2067
  9. Akash M.S.H., Rehman K., Liaqat A., Numan M., Mahmood Q., Kamal S. Biochemical investigation of gender-specific association between insulin resistance and inflammatory biomarkers in types 2 diabetic patients. Biomed. Pharmacother. 2018;106:285–291
  10. Wilkinson D., Chapman I.M., Heilbronn L.K. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves peripheral insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabet. Med. 2012;29:986–989
  11. Nishizaka T., Nagatomo F., Fujino H., et al. Hyperbaric oxygen exposure reduces age-related decrease in oxidative capacity of the tibialis anterior muscle in mice. Enzym. Res. 2010 2010
  12. [Leitman M., Efrati S., Fuchs S., Hadanny A., Vered Z. The effect of hyperbaric oxygenation therapy on myocardial function. Int. J. Cardiovasc. Imag. 2020;36:833–840
  13. Hadanny A., Zubari T., Tamir-Adler L., et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy effects on pulmonary functions: a prospective cohort study. BMC Pulm. Med. 2019;19:1–6

14.Chen, J., Zhang, F., Zhao, L., Cheng, C., Zhong, R., Dong, C., & Le, W. (2020). Hyperbaric oxygen ameliorates cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s & Dementia : Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, 6(1). 

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