Should You Try Cryotherapy Before Your Wedding?

After a few years on the mainstream market, the buzz around cryotherapy has amplified to a level that actresses like Jennifer Aniston praise the power of subzero cryofacials and models like Gigi Hadid openly prep for Victoria’s Secret runways with trips to the cryochamber. Touting results like decreased inflammation, increased energy and mood, and extreme calorie burn, the mysterious freezing treatments seem to be a constant source of debate: Do they, or don’t they really work?  

Whether you believe the hype or not, there must be something inspiring loyal fans to purchase memberships to these nitrogen meccas for upwards of $500 per month. And with a few trips to the chamber and a facial or two under my belt, I can confidently say I’m a believer, especially after watching my waist whittle and skin beam after a couple of weeks braving the cold. It’s no surprise, with zero downtime and countless studios popping up coast to coast, that brides are embracing the trend and bringing their wedding party along for the ride.

“We have brides that come in before their weddings to help with everything from swelling from late nights with cocktails, sore muscles from extreme workouts, and even anxiety from planning a wedding,” shares Sara Latham, founder of The Cryobar, Chicago’s buzzy wellness destination. As a self-professed “lifelong cryotherapy addict,” Latham credits whole-body cryotherapy with alleviating the pain from her severe osteoporosis-arthritis as well as healing her complexion with regular cryo-toning facials. “The facial has gotten rid of my rosacea, tightened the skin on my face, eliminated my eczema, and brightened my complexion,” Latham shares of the innovative treatment. And for the brides that are flocking to her airy boutiques, she’s more than thrilled to share the experience. “We have hosted bachelorette events here, and even bridal parties before their makeup appointments to help everyone recover from the big rehearsal dinner and give the energy boost needed to make it through the big day.” Outfitted in cozy robes and slippers before treatments, the destination is becoming Instagram catnip for pre-wedding prep stories.

The facial, which takes about ten minutes and consists of a stream of nitrogen vapor being puffed gently over skin (bonus: you don’t even have to take off your makeup) may sound extreme, but actually feels more like a relaxing trip to the spa. “Growing up in a family full of women, we always knew how to use frozen cucumber slices to take down eye puffiness, so the concept is not new,” explains Dr. Elena Ocher, the NYC-based neurologist specializing in pain management and creator of Chuda Skincare, best known for its cultish following by skin-obsessed celeb makeup artists like Jamie Greenberg and ageless beauty Kelly Rutherford. “The liquid nitrogen facials are the new application of low temperatures to the face, neck and chest skin for the rejuvenation and collagen stimulation, and the technology is innovative, safe, and easy tolerated.”

At around $65 per session, the cryo-toning facial itself is designed to increase collagen production, decrease swelling, and can even help stimulate hair growth on the scalp. “You can literally feel your skin tightening in only one facial,” shares Latham of the treatment that she’s been booking for brides the day of the wedding as a quick fix thanks to its zero-downtime payoff. Plus, it can even shrink a last-minute breakout thanks to the anti-inflammatory response triggered in skin. As a practicing doctor, Ocher has regularly advised patients to apply cold to areas of inflammation to reduce pain, redness and swelling, and this offers a futuristic step forward. “That’s exactly the purpose of the freezing temperature facials, to decrease redness and swelling, rejuvenate cell metabolism, create healthy collagen growth, and fight the negative effect of free radicals,” she explains, noting that additional moisture can boost the process of oxidation and collagen renewal, making Chuda’s Healing Hydrating Cream and new Sheer Hydrating Lotion that create a skin-drenching, luminous veil an easy match for pre and post-cryo maintenance.

Three minutes may sound brief, but when it’s spent engulfed in a frozen cloud wrapped only in socks, slippers, and mittens, the experience isn’t one you’ll soon forget. So how, in layman’s terms, does it work? As soon as you step into the chamber, which looks a bit like a spray tanning booth mixed with a fog machine, the extreme cold kicks on your body’s natural fight-or-flight response, pulling blood from your extremities and sending it to your core. “Anything in the blood that isn’t supposed to be there, like too many white blood cells (inflammation), lactic acid (muscle soreness), swelling, or even alcohol is sent to your body’s natural waste response and released from the body,” Latham explains of the process, which in turn boosts collagen throughout skin and ligaments and delivers an almost instantaneous endorphin high.

And aside from the blissed-out aftershock, the cardio-free slimming potential is a serious phenomenon. “As soon as the treatment is over and the cryosauna turns off, your body begins the 500-800 caloric burn by increasing your metabolism and burning fat to warm itself back-up— so brides who are stressed-out or trying to keep up their hard workouts before their big day get all of these benefits.” Latham also notes that the more often you do it, the better (hence the monthly subscription plans). An insider tip? Skip hot yoga, saunas, or showers the day of a treatment to maximize caloric burn, since part of the magic is letting your body work to warm itself back up to regular temperatures. One more reminder for the thrill-seeking bride-to-be to stay cool under pressure in those final moments as a single babe.

—Arden Fanning Andrews