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article imageSalon worker 'froze to death' during cryotherapy treatment

By Megan Hamilton     Oct 27, 2015 in Odd News
Las Vegas - Cryotherapy is a weirdly unorthodox treatment that seems to be gaining popularity. It entails exposing the body to sub-zero temperatures and some say it may be beneficial, especially after a facial and moisturizer treatment.
That's what aesthetician Chelsea Ake-Salvacion,24, said in an article published on Thursday, The Washington Post reports.
"We like to do the cryofacial afterward because it helps seal everything in," she said.
But before her comments were published, Ake-Salvacion died — inside a cryotherapy chamber in Rejuvenice, the salon where she worked.
Cryotherapy is becoming trendy right now, and athletes like LeBron James have used it for treating pain, notes. However, it's a technology that has yet to be evaluated by the FDA, and a host of experts question its effectiveness.
On its website, Rejuvenice notes that the cryochamber exposes a person's whole body to "hypercooled room-air," and up to three people can undergo the treatment simultaneously.
The site touts benefits like "an internal systemic anti-inflammatory response in the body," and the temperature inside the chamber is around -240 degrees Fahrenheit. There's also a dress code: A robe (which is removed during treatment), socks, slippers, gloves, underwear (bottoms), and for women, a sports bra (optional), and lastly, a mask and earmuffs.
The site mentions safety features, "and doors are never locked, which allows clients to stop treatment instantaneously at any time."
On a separate page, however, Rejuvenice notes "these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease."
So what happened to Ake-Salvacion?
Medical authorities told her family that she died within seconds. The body of the young woman was identified by her uncle, Albert Ake, at the Clark County coroner's office, hours after her body was found last Tuesday The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Although they say she died quickly, coroner's office investigators told Ake it was too soon to tell what caused his niece's death.
They said they were looking into the gases she inhaled before she died, and also examining the chamber's mechanics and whether she was able to keep her head above the chamber to breathe.
According to Jezebel, authorities with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say it's likely she suffocated. One employee told the Review-Journal that it wasn't unusual for employees to use the machine without supervision, and Ake-Salvacion's family members dispute the investigator's report that operator failure caused her death.
Ake told the newspaper that his niece knew what she was doing.
Her bosses had promoted her to a management position at the center because she had done the procedure many times, Ake said.
She was working as night supervisor at the center on Oct.19, the Review-Journal reports, and video cameras showed her closing up shop, then walking to the back of the salon.
Her body was discovered when the business began the day on Tuesday morning, her uncle said. She was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, coroner's office staff said.
While James and celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Derek Hough, Daniel Craig, and Yoko Ono are heaping money on this new trend,, and at $90 a pop for a three-minute full body treatment and $45 for a five-minute cryofacial, it's anything but cheap.
And while it's touted to do all sorts of things, like burn 800 calories and reduce inflammation, medical researchers have their doubts. There is little evidence that it works, Jezebel notes, citing this study.
The study reported there was weak evidence from controlled studies that whole body cryotherapy (WBC) "enhances antioxidant capacity and parasympathetic reactivation, and alters inflammatory pathways relevant to sports recovery." The researchers also conducted several small randomized studies and found WBC offers minor "improvements in subjective recovery and muscle soreness following metabolic or mechanical overload, but little benefit towards functional recovery."
An autopsy for Ake-Salvacion was scheduled for Oct. 25, and it will take six to eight weeks for lab results to become available, the Review-Journal reports.
A native of Honolulu, she loved her job, her uncle said.
Anyone who knew her understood she had a kind heart and was a sweet person, Ake said. She went out of her way to make sure everyone was comfortable, and she was always there for them.
Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Honolulu.
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