Saunas are found everywhere, from luxury hotels to standard gym facilities. They’ve been used for over a thousand years and remain popular today, especially among health enthusiasts.
Saunas help us relax and unwind and are associated with many other health benefits, such as reducing stress levels, improving our cardiovascular health, reducing pain, and cleansing our skin. However, what benefits, or implications are there when using a sauna after surgery?
Does sitting in an infrared sauna after certain types of surgeries and medical operations help with the healing and rehabilitation process?
Is it a good idea, or is it something that you should steer far away from? All these questions will be answered here.
This article discusses the potential benefits and drawbacks, if there are any, of using an infrared sauna after surgery.
Temperature Sensei prides itself on being an authority on all things sauna. We unpack the many ways that using a sauna can affect you after surgery: both the benefits and the risks.
How Do Infrared Saunas Differ from Others
Not all saunas have the same healing properties. For instance, woodburning, electrical, and steam room saunas heat rooms to about 70 to 100 degrees Celsius or 158 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately, these types of saunas can worsen your surgery wounds by adding additional moisture to the wound. However, infrared saunas heat your body directly through specialized lamps, and the heat waves penetrate deeper into muscles and wounds, resulting in quick regeneration.
They add no extra moisture to the air, making them safer to use for healing surgical wounds and scars.
NASA researchers have shown that the infrared light waves given off by infrared saunas increase tissue growth and cell regeneration. This is because the mitochondria in our tissue cells readily accept the incoming light waves. This is what speeds up the wound healing process. RECOMMENDED: Infrared Sauna Vs Traditional Sauna
What About Wound Pain After surgery
In addition to their amazing ability to accelerate wound healing, infrared saunas also reduce the pain associated with surgical wounds.
Dutch researchers found that patients who had chronic pain associated with arthritis–ankylosing spondylitis–and had recently undergone surgery experienced reduced pain, stiffness, and fatigue following regular infrared sauna visits.
The reduction in pain is largely due to the saunas’ ability to reduce inflammation levels after surgeries.
Is It Safe To Use A Sauna After Surgery?
Many questions float around online discussing whether it’s safe to use a sauna after surgery or if it’s something that you should stay away from. The simple answer is that it primarily depends on the type of surgery and the severity of your injuries post-operation.
As mentioned, infrared saunas can heal wounds after surgery, but it is crucial to keep track of how long ago you first received your surgery, as this determines what healing phase you are currently in.
Typically, you would only be able to get into a sauna after the second phase of healing, known as the inflammatory phase. This phase occurs between 24 and 48 hours after surgery. During this phase, your blood vessels dilate and deliver large volumes of blood to the injured area to prevent infection.
You should stay away from saunas during this phase, as extreme heat increases blood vessel dilation and cause a further increase in overall swelling rather than reducing it.
It’s advisable to wait until you reach the proliferation healing phase. This happens approximately four days after surgery. You should wait at least five days after surgery before visiting a sauna just to be extra cautious. This will give the wound time to heal naturally.
Type Of Surgery
You should also be aware of the type and severity of surgery you undergo.
Usually, infrared saunas can be used to treat almost all types of surgery wounds, from keyhole surgeries to other surgeries that involve small incisions. However, there are one or two exceptions where visiting a sauna can heavily impact your health and slow the healing process.
For example, if you’ve just come out of breast surgery or any type of major body augmentation involving synthetic products, such as implants, you should avoid saunas entirely.
Infrared saunas have been shown to alter the chemical composition of these synthetic implants. These chemical changes will cause physical damage to the implant, resulting in them rupturing and causing the tissue surrounding them to become infected.
Furthermore, infrared saunas should not be used for surgeries such as liposuction where the body is internally wounded. It will take longer for your body to heal from the internal trauma, and visiting a sauna before it has completed healed can cause an infection.
However, if you do want to visit an infrared sauna after undergoing liposuction, then it is advised to wait at least four weeks until your internal swelling has reduced. This is the same waiting period after undergoing C-sections or larger incisions that bruise your body internally.
It’s recommended that you always consult your surgeon regarding the dos and don’ts post-operation, as they will know what will work best for you.
Keeps You In Shape After Surgery
Many of the world’s top athletes can stay in shape by using infrared saunas during their rehabilitation periods after surgery. Infrared saunas allow you to burn a significant amount of calories without participating in any serious physical exercise.
Athletes who have undergone major surgeries after sports injuries use infrared saunas to burn calories and aid them in healing.
After surgery, patients will have a lot of stiffness and scar tissue around the operating area. Thankfully, several studies have shown that the infrared light given off by infrared saunas can heal these sports-related injuries faster than any form of physiotherapy.
These studies show that infrared saunas can reduce inflammation around joints after surgery, heal tears and ruptures in connective tissues, and improve oxygenation in the bloodstream, which accelerates cell regeneration.
Both amateur and professional athletes can benefit from the healing properties of saunas. For instance, the heat from an infrared sauna helps with post-exercise muscle relaxation and the elimination of lactic acid, which both aid in muscle regeneration.
What About Healing Wounds On Skin?
Infrared saunas have been shown to heal wounds faster by promoting cell generation, which is brought about by the technology the sauna uses to emit heat.
The infrared light waves penetrate deep into damaged skin tissue, expanding injured capillaries and promoting an anti-inflammatory response that rapidly allows nutrients to reach the injured site. This causes white blood cells to flood the area and regenerate the damaged tissue.
Healing is also associated with the increased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and allowing nutrients to flow to the injury site quicker.
The infrared light waves are the primary factor responsible for promoting wound healing. The soreness, redness, and swelling of these wounds will immediately improve due to the light waves emitted by the sauna.
It’s important to note that not all sauna warmth warrants this response. Some saunas might cause further damage to your wound and slow down the healing process.
You should avoid using a traditional sauna room during any phase of wound healing. The added moisture given off by a traditional steam room promotes bacterial growth and causes an infection.
Infrared sauna treatment promotes your body’s capacity for skin reparation by creating healthier and newer skin tissues. A study done on rodents in 2003 found that infrared exposure caused an increased generation of collagen in large skin lacerations.
Additionally, infrared saunas have also been shown to reduce other skin abnormalities from rashes to acne.
It’s recommended that you only visit a sauna 24 hours after your stitches have been removed and there is no fluid or discharge leaking from your wound.
Skin is our largest organ, and it is our first protective barrier against external pathogens. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to take care of it, and an infrared sauna will help you in this regard.
Infrared saunas are increasing in popularity and are becoming widely used within our health sectors. Their ability to raise your core body temperature using infrared light rays without heating the entire room and causing a stuffy environment is the key to its associated health benefits.
From rapidly healing skin issues like scars, acne, and eczema to reducing inflammation, infrared saunas are a safe and effective post-op treatment. On top of their benefits, they’re also considered safer to use than steam rooms, where moisture presents a breeding ground for bacteria.
These saunas can be used to heal any scarring or wound post-surgery, but it is important to monitor what healing process you are in before deciding to use any type of sauna.
Infrared saunas are amazing and hold so much more healing potential than we first thought. It is something that has been adopted by many health professionals, in addition to the medicinal treatment, to speed up the healing periods of patients.
However, you should always consult a professional when it comes to using a sauna after major surgeries, as it can complicate healing procedures and cause more harm than good.
So next time you have a wound that needs quick healing, or you just want to have a relaxed session to yourself, why not step into an infrared sauna and start experiencing all its beneficial health properties.