Table of Contents > Alternative Modalities > Carboxytherapy Print



Related terms
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Related Terms
  • Carboxitherapy, carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide therapy, carboxy therapy, cellulite, CO2, CO2 therapy, cosmetic dermatology, localized adiposity.

  • Carboxytherapy, or carbon dioxide therapy, is a non-surgical technique that involves injecting carbon dioxide (a colorless, odorless gas) beneath the skin. It is one of the more recent techniques used to reduce cellulite and tighten skin, reduce scarring, lighten dark circles under the eyes and improve other skin irregularities. It is often performed in conjunction with liposuction.
  • Once the carbon dioxide has entered the subcutaneous tissue, it quickly spreads into the surrounding subcutaneous tissues. (One study noted a diffusion time of 5-30 minutes in dogs.) Treatments do not have permanent results and need to be repeated about every 3-6 months to maintain results.
  • Carbon dioxide is also used to treat medical problems, such as rheumatism, psoriasis, and vascular conditions. However, using it for cosmetic purposes is relatively new.
  • Carboxytherapy was developed as plastic surgeons and other doctors looked for ways to improve the results of liposuction. Liposuction is a surgical technique in which a doctor vacuums fatty deposits from specific areas of the body, such as the thighs or buttocks. Doctors note that, depending on the patient's physical condition, sometimes fatty deposits are left behind or accumulate after surgery. Carobxytherapy is intended to reduce or eliminate these deposits for a more complete result.
  • The therapy was first used in France, where it was used to treat circulatory conditions, such as Raynaud's disease and Beurger's disease. (Raynaud's is now commonly treated with medications. There is no cure for Beurger's disease, but symptoms are treated by having the patient stop using tobacco, keeping warm with gentle exercise and by avoiding cold temperatures, and sometimes by cutting nerves to the affected area for pain relief.) In the 1950s, French cardiologist Jean Baptiste Romeuf began using carbon dioxide therapy on patients with cellulite.
  • Carboxytherapy treatments cost $75-100 for each session and are typically performed by plastic surgeons in their offices, using machines that regulate the flow of the carbon dioxide gas and remove any impurities.
  • At least one Web site advertises a carboxytherapy machine as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but according to an FDA spokesperson, this machine has not been cleared or approved as of late October, 2008.
  • Carboxytherapy is said to be able to be performed anywhere on the body. Common sites include thighs and buttocks.


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  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

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  • Carboxytherapy should be performed by a licensed medical doctor and is usually performed by a plastic surgeon
  • Anesthesia is not necessary, but sometimes doctors apply numbing creams so patients will not feel the prick of the needle as it pierces the skin.
  • Pure carbon dioxide gas is administered through sterile tubing by the doctor, who controls the rate of flow.
  • Treatment may take 12-20 sessions, which may be scheduled once or twice a week. Each treatment takes 15-30 minutes.
  • Common body parts that are treated include: under the eyes and on the eyelids, belly, thighs, buttocks, and arms.
  • Patients are not restricted following treatment. Providers of this treatment claim that patients generally notice a difference after the fifth treatment and see that the tissue is firmer by the 10th treatment. Doctors who perform this treatment recommend that patients also eat healthy diets and exercise for optimal results.
  • Follow-up maintenance treatments are also required because the results are not permanent. Single-treatment sessions for maintenance need to be done every 3-6 months, for a total of 3-4 times per year.

  • Cellulite refers to fat deposits under the skin that make skin look lumpy and dimpled, typically in soft tissue areas, such as the thighs and belly. It is caused when fat accumulates under the skin, putting force on parts of the connective tissue under the skin and leading to this uneven appearance.
  • Carboxytherapy is said to work in two ways. First, it may improve circulation to the affected area by expanding blood vessels, thus improving the flow of blood and the delivery of oxygen. This is in turn may clear excess fluid in the area, leaving the tissue under the skin firmer.
  • Secondly, carboxytherapy appears to break down fat cells through a process called lipolysis. During this process, fat is converted into a form that the body can use for energy. Excess fluid between these fat cells is cleared away with little or no damage to connective tissue.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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