Pressotherapy: Benefits | Side Effects | Precaution

What You Need to Know About Pressotherapy

What is pressotherapy?

Pressotherapy is a procedure that is said to help with lymphatic drainage, thereby potentially slimming the look of the arms and legs (because they carry less fluid), easing aches and pains, and detoxifying the body. It uses an air pressure machine to inflate a suit that squeezes your arms, legs, or abdomen in a rhythmic motion, similar to a massage.

There is some evidence that lymphatic drainage massage like pressotherapy can reduce the appearance of cellulite and release fluid in the lymph nodes which may build up after surgery or after certain cancer treatments.

This article will cover what you can expect during pressotherapy, who is a good candidate for the treatment, the benefits and side effects, and what you can expect it to cost.

How a pressotherapy machine works

Pressotherapy is typically performed in spas or wellness centers that may also offer facials, waxing, or massage. A trained esthetician will perform the procedure. Pressotherapy is similar to a lymphatic drainage massage, but while massage is performed by hand, pressotherapy is administered by a machine that dispenses the correct amount of pressure every time. Here’s how the procedure works:

  1. You will arrive at your appointment and be led to the pressotherapy chair or bed. You do not need to remove your clothes. While you can learn how to give yourself an at-home lymphatic drainage massage, pressotherapy should always be done in-office with a trained practitioner.
  2. The esthetician will help you get into the garment (which looks sort of like an astronaut’s spacesuit). This can be wrapped around the legs, your midsection, arms or all three.
  3. The garment has tubes on it that are hooked up to a computerized air pressure machine. The garment will inflate with air and you will feel a squeezing sensation that should feel like pressure, not pain.
  4. A typical session will last for 30 to 45 minutes. Your body may feel light afterwards, and anecdotally, some people feel they have to urinate right away, which could be due to the movement of water in the body. You can get pressotherapy done as often as twice a week.

Pressotherapy benefits

Pressotherapy stimulates the body’s lymphatic system. When it’s functioning optimally, the lymphatic system transports lymph, a fluid that contains white blood cells to help fight infection. Possible benefits of pressotherapy include:

  • relaxed muscles and fewer aches
  • reduction in the appearance of cellulite
  • reduction of swelling and stiffness in the limbs
  • removal of toxins, though this needs more research
  • toned and firm skin
  • stronger immune system due to lymph moving properly

Pressotherapy side effects

Pressotherapy is generally considered safe, though there are some side effects you should know about, including muscle pain if the pressure on the machine is too high and redness or slight irritation where the pressurized garments meet the skin.

When to avoid pressotherapy

Pressotherapy is generally considered safe for adults of all ages. However, If you’re pregnant, have recently had surgery, or have other health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, or fever, always talk to a doctor before getting pressotherapy. If you’ve recently broken a bone or have osteoporosis or another bone condition, you should also check in with a doctor to make sure this treatment is not too intense on the injury.

How much does pressotherapy cost?

Pressotherapy will range in price depending on where you’re getting the treatment done and how long your appointment lasts. Generally, it will cost anywhere from $50 to $150 for a 30- to 45-minute session. Because this is typically an elective cosmetic procedure, it will likely not be covered by insurance. However, if your doctor recommends pressotherapy as a way to aid healing after a surgery, it may be covered.


Pressotherapy is a procedure that can help with lymphatic drainage, potentially making the arms, legs, or abdomen look slimmer or more defined. The treatment may also ease aches and pains, and detoxify the body from a buildup of toxins. It uses an air pressure machine to inflate a suit which squeezes targeted areas of the body. It feels like a strong massage and should be a relaxing experience.

Pressotherapy is generally considered safe, however, if you’re pregnant or have pre-existing health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, or even a fever, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor before doing this treatment.

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