A 24-year-old Las Vegas woman died last week after spending just “seconds” in the “Cryotherapy” chamber at the spa where she worked, the Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting.
The Clark County Medical examiner ruled this week that Chelsea Ake-Salvacion, who was an employee at the Rejuvenice Spa in nearby Henderson, was closing down the spa for the day on October 19 when she entered the Cryotherapy chamber — where customers are exposed to temperatures as low as -240 degrees Fahrenheit — to close it down. It’s something she had done multiple times before, said her family members.
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) October 26, 2015
What happened in the spa’s Cryotherapy chamber is unclear, as there are no security cameras in that part of the spa, for customer privacy. Chelsea was last seen on spa security camera videos walking toward the back of the spa. Her frozen body was discovered ten hours later.
What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy, according to the Toronto Star, is a popular new spa and fitness treatment favored by some athletes (LeBron James is a fan). Users are briefly exposed to temperatures of around -240 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth, according to the Guardian, is -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit (recorded in Antarctica).
For their protection, Cryotherapy users are given slippers, mittens, face masks, and earmuffs. Users wear shorts, and men go shirtless while women wear a sports bra (in some spas, the sports bra is optional). They then enter the chamber, which does not lock (so users who can’t take it any more can leave), and endure the treatment for a couple of minutes, no more.
Some Cryotherapy chambers are designed for a single user, others can accommodate very small groups. Cryotherapy chambers that can accommodate small groups are popular with couples and with groups of athletes from the same team.
In 2013, Australian news reporter Mike Dalton gave Cryotherapy a try.
The [Supposed] Benefits of Cryotherapy
So why would anyone do that to their self? Athletes say the intense cold helps soothe sore muscles, and as a beauty treatment, Ake-Salvacion herself wrote that it confers some benefit to users who have undergone facial treatments.
“We like to do the cryofacial afterward because it helps seal everything in.”
Similarly, Urban Organic News claims that Cryotherapy — which costs about $50-100 per session — provides a host of benefits.
“The reported benefits of cryotherapy include improved circulation, better metabolism, detoxification of the skin, liver and lymph systems, accelerated healing, cellular and tissue repair, and improved immune function. Cryotherapy can promote faster muscle regeneration from injuries and quicker recuperation from fatigue. All of these healing benefits are possible, and cryotherapy is a relatively safe and non invasive procedure.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, isn’t on-board with the supposed benefits of Cryotherapy.
“These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
What Happened To Chelsea Ake-Salvacion?
Chelsea Ake-Salvacion’s friends and family are demanding to know how and why she died in that Cryotherapy chamber last week. The Clark County Medical Examiner says that she died “within seconds,” although, as Cryotherapy users and practitioners note, treatment generally lasts for a couple of minutes. Further, Ake-Salvacion had used, and operated, her employer’s Cryotherapy machine before, her uncle, Albert Ake, notes.
“She knew exactly what she was doing.”
In a statement via the Straits Times, owners of the Rejevenice Spa where Chelsea worked say they are “voluntarily scrutinizing each and every one of our internal procedures to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Would you be willing to give Cryotherapy a try? Do you think the treatment should be banned? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock / Photo Love]