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The Research Behind Vacuum

Vacuum massage originates from cupping therapy, a traditional Chinese medicine therapy dating back at least 2000 years. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the western world took notice of this and started conducting research. At present day, vacuum massage therapy has had support in the medical community with its effectiveness to help with reductions in swelling, improvement in the appearance of stretch marks, and improvements in the appearance in cellulite.

Vacuum massage therapy is a non-invasive mechanical massage technique performed with a mechanical device that lifts the skin by means of suction, creates a skin fold and mobilises that skin fold. This action promotes fresh blood supply to the area, bringing oxygen and nutrients to nourish the tissues.  The increased circulation boosts lymphatic drainage, eliminating toxins from the body and improving the appearance of cellulite. This is a pain free process, so much so that clients often refer to it as relaxing. So let’s dive into the research behind the vacuum massage.

Cellulite

Numerous studies show that vacuum massage therapy improves both existing cellulite and reduces the risk of developing further cellulite [1, 2, 3, 4]. Two studies show that after 6 weeks of vacuum massage therapy, clients had an increased number of fibroblasts compared to the control side, a thickened epidermis in the majority of cases [2, 3]. The epidermis is the very top layer of skin, thus having a thicker epidermis means that the skin is more resistant to structural change such as dimpling, a common effect of cellulite. Skin thickness could still be observed at a 50% improvement even after clients had not participated in any vacuum therapy after 6 months. [5, 6]

Scaring

Vacuum massage therapy helps reduce visible scaring. In fact, it was so effective that research has been carried out on burn victims, showing that results were evident after 5 minutes of treatment [7, 8]. Preliminary results show that the disruption of the epidermis may indicate that vacuum massage could be able to actually breach the skin barrier. The statistically significant changes in the dermal layers could suggest an increased ECM production after vacuum massage.

[1] Monteux C, Lafontan M. Use of the microdialysis technique to assess lipolytic responsiveness of femoral adipose tissue after 12 sessions of mechanical massage technique. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008;22:1465–1470. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2008.02918.x.

[2] Innocenzi D, Balzani A, Panetta C. Modifications Morphologiques De La Peau Induites Par La Technique LPG®. DERMOtime Settembre . 2002;7.8:25–27.

[3] Innocenzi D, Balzani A, Montesi G, La Torre G, Tenna S, Scuderi N, et al. Evidence des modifications cutanées induites par la technique LPG via une analyse d’images. DermoCosmetologia. 2003;1:9–15.

[4] Bourgeois JF, Gourgou S, Kramar A, Lagarde JM, Guillot B. A randomized, prospective study using the LPG technique in treating radiation-induced skin fibrosis: clinical and profilometric analysis. Skin Res Technol. 2008;14:71–76

[5] Monteux C, Lafontan M. Use of the microdialysis technique to assess lipolytic responsiveness of femoral adipose tissue after 12 sessions of mechanical massage technique. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008;22:1465–1470. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2008.02918.x

[6] Ortonne J-P. Treatment of cellulite. Nouv Dermatol. 2003;22:261–269.

[7] Bombaro KM, Engrav LH, Carrougher GJ, Wiechman SA, Faucher L, Costa BA, et al. What is the prevalence of hypertrophic scarring following burns? Burns. 2003;29:299–302. doi: 10.1016/S0305-4179(03)00067-6.

[8] Grisbrook TL, Stearne SM, Reid SL, Wood FM, Rea SM, Elliott CM. Demonstration of the use of the ICF framework in detailing complex functional deficits after major burn. Burns. 2012;38:32–43. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2011.04.001

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