The use of cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling has been in use for centuries, usually by using ice or other materials at around 0º Celsius. Although this is believed to be advantageous, the use of such a low temperature also carries some disadvantages, ranging from a reactive hyperemia to skin damage. These adverse effects are seen with the application of temperatures below 14 °C.
Hilotherapy is a term used to describe the application of cold fluid at a controlled temperature to areas of the body that have been subjected to trauma or surgery.The temperature is controlled by the Hilotherapy System and the fluid is delivered to the relevant area by a specially designed cuff or a mask.
With Hilotherapy, the fluid circulating in the cuff or mask can be regulated to the ideal temperature for the area being treated and kept at a constant level. In the case of the head & neck this is about 14 °C .
Cold therapy is frequently used after cosmetic procedures to reduce pain, oedema and bruising. Methods traditionally used have been messy, labour intensive and not at a constant ideal temperature. These included :
1. Gauze soaked in a bowl of ice that needs changing every hour.
2. Crushed ice in a plastic bag wrapped in a towel that needs changing every hour.
3. Gel packs cooled in the fridge that needs changing every hour.
The Hilotherm system would seem to address all of the above problems. We decided to use this on our in-patient as well as out-patient procedures and carried out a retrospective survey of both the patients and the nurses applying the system.
Between May 2010 and May 2011, 243 patients had hilotherm masks after a cosmetic procedure. 93 patients underwent a blepharoplasty, 57 had a rhinoplasty, 54 had a facelift/browlift and 39 had fractional Co2 laser skin resurfacing. 205( 84%) patients participated in the survey.
A survey was also carried out on the 65 nurses in the 3 hospitals and 1 aesthetic clinic who were involved in the patients’ care with the use of the hilotherapy masks. 62 nurses responded (95%).
91% of patients felt that pain level was comfortable to none, 87% felt that swelling was comfortable to none, 83% felt that the hilotherapy helped them heal faster, 97.5% found the mask comfortable to wear. 95% of patients would have like to continue the hilotherapy at home and 98% would recommend it to a friend. There were no complications from the mask.
94% of nurses felt that the hilotherapy was easier to use compared to previous methods. 86% felt that it improved patient’s pain and 86% felt that it reduced the patient’s swelling compared to previous methods. 95% felt that the maskwas comfortable for the patient and 95% would recommend it to other hospitals and clinics.
We concluded that Hilotherapy is a clinically proven, safe and efficacious adjunct tp postoperative recovery after facial procedures. Patients and nurses find the masks comfortable and feel that it helps reduce pain and swelling and speeds up patients’ recovery. All of my patients now have this routinely as part of their postoperative care and I would recommend it to all patients seeking facial procedures.
I presented this data at the latest International FACE Conference in London and the video link is attached below