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What does hyperbaric oxygen therapy offer to burn victims?

Other Medical Conditions and HBOT | Published: December 7th 2022, 02:13PM

Explore the ways in which the healing power of oxygen can accelerate the healing process for people suffering from a variety of types of burns  


It’s estimated that over 480,000 people require medical care to treat serious burn injuries in the United States per year. [1]

With the recent news of comedian Jay Leno suffering significant second- and third-degree burns in a gasoline fire, topics of conversation have arisen throughout the media about burn prevention and burn care treatment. [2]

Continue reading to learn more about the tissue damage brought on by burns, and how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help treat recovering burn victims.  


What is a burn?

Burns are a type of painful wound inflicted by heat, chemicals, sunlight, electricity, or radiation that damages skin tissues. [3,4,5]

Most burns happen accidentally, and the severity of a burn can range from a minor injury that can be treated at home to lasting damage to skin, muscles, and bones that must be treated by medical professionals. [3,5]

The severity (or degree) of a burn is based on the depth of the burn and amount of skin affected, which is professionally determined by a medical provider. [3]


What are common causes of burns? 

There are many ways that a person can get burned, but the most common causes of burns include:

  • Thermal sources such as fire, hot liquids, steam, and contact with hot surfaces
  • Chemicals, including cement, acids, or detergents 
  • Radiation therapy to treat cancer 
  • Electricity
  • Harsh sunlight (causing sunburn)
  • Being outside in freezing temperatures (causing frostbite) [3,5]


What are the types or classifications of burns?

Burns are classified into different categories based on degrees of severity by healthcare providers who evaluate the extent of damage to the skin. The higher the degree, the worst the damage the burn has caused to your skin. [3,4,5]

Burn degrees are as follows:

  • First-degree burns (also called minor or superficial burns) only affect the top outer layer of skin. They appear red and feel painful, but do not usually blister. A prime example is most sunburns. 
  • Second-degree burns (also called partial thickness burns) affect the top and lower layers of skin. They appear red, swollen, and blister, and feel painful. 
  • Third-degree burns (also called full thickness burns) destroy all layers of skin. They may also damage the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons—sometimes this type of severity is even classified as a fourth-degree burn. These burns appear black, brown, white, or yellow instead of red. They are not painful because this type of burn damages nerve endings, but you may feel pain in adjacent areas. [3,4,5]


How are burns treated? 

Once your healthcare provider has properly classified your burn, a treatment plan will be tailored to fit your case based on the burn’s cause and severity as well as your age and percentage of the body’s surface area that has been burned. [3,4]

Less severe burns can often be treated with antibiotic cream and over-the-counter medication to manage the pain, but more severe and extensive burns will need specialized treatments such as complex wound care, skin grafting, IV fluid treatments, cosmetic reconstruction, or even hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  [3,4]


How can hyperbaric oxygen therapy help burn victims?  

When combined with additional burn treatments like prescribed topical creams and pain medication, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can be a powerful tool in helping burn victims heal quicker and more thoroughly. 

HBOT is most often utilized for patients with second- and third-degree thermal burns because the atmosphere of 100% oxygen can be extremely beneficial in promoting new blood vessels and tissue growth as well as controlling the risk for infection. 

Research has shown that HBOT can help burn patients by decreasing wound infections, increasing the viability of skin grafts, reducing the length of hospital stays, and reducing the need for surgery. [6]


Ready to experience the healing power of oxygen?

With medical centers in Orlando and New Smyrna Beach, our team at Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center is well-equipped to care for you as you heal from your burn incident.

“I have treated many patients over the years with all types of burns—sunburns, radiation burns, chemical burns, first-, second-, and third-degree burns—that have benefitted from undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments,” shares Erika Jordan, hyperbaric director and founder of Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center. “The more serious the burn, the more hyperbaric treatments needed to assist in recovery alongside other treatments like wound care and skin grafting. Regardless of the type of burn, we properly evaluate all of our patients to provide the most safe and effective treatments for their recovery.” 

Our spa-like treatment centers are equipped with Sechrist 3600 monoplace hyperbaric chambers, capable of pressures up to 3.0 atmospheres. They are clean, comfortable, private, and equipped with entertainment streaming capabilities that allow you to watch your favorite movie or TV show during treatment. 

Our hyperbaric chambers are approved by Medicare insurance coverage to treat a variety of specified conditions, including thermal burns. We can submit the claims to Medicare directly, and you will only be responsible for any copays or deductibles per your plan. We also offer discounted out-of-pocket packages to our patients without coverage.


We’d like to highlight the story of comedian Jay Leno who is undergoing a very aggressive protocol of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat recent burns:

Comedian Jay Leno is undergoing a very aggressive protocol of hyperbaric oxygen therapy at the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles after suffering significant second- and third-degree burns to his face, chest, and hands in a gasoline fire. [2]

Leno is undergoing his hyperbaric treatments in a Sechrist monoplace chamber (like the ones we use at HHTC) to quickly heal burn wounds by increasing the oxygen supply to injured areas and reducing swelling, which helps maintain healthy blood flow. [2]

“[The hyperbaric oxygen chamber] helps stimulate new blood vessel growth in areas that have been traumatized, it decreases the bacteria that normally surrounds the wound and it also decreases the pressure and the swelling inside the tissue,” explained Dr. Peter Grossman, Medical Director at the Grossman Burn Center who is treating Leno, in a recent press conference. [2] 

“Burns are progressive, so by getting a patient into a hyperbaric oxygen tank early, you can hopefully minimize that progression from a second-degree burn to a third-degree burn and hopefully improve the outcome. And so, we’ve been very aggressive with hyperbaric oxygen treatment with Mr. Leno,” added Grossman. [2] 

“As soon as I heard about Jay Leno’s burn accident, the first thing I thought of was that I hoped he would be undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy in his recovery just like Michael Jackson did years ago when sustaining a burn from the Pepsi commercial,” shares Jordan. “At the time of Jay Leno’s accident, we did not know the extent of his injuries, but I did know that regardless of the degree of burns, they can all benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.”


Come visit us at Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center!

Our trained, caring team of hyperbaric specialists are ready to answer any questions you may have before your treatments! We welcome you to contact us today.



1: American Burn Association | Burn Incidence Fact Sheet

2: People | What to Know About the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Used for Jay Leno’s Burn Treatment

3: Cleveland Clinic | Burns

4: John Hopkins Medicine | Burns and Wounds

5: WebMD | What Are the Types and Degrees of Burns?

6: National Library of Medicine | Hyperbaric Treatment of Thermal Burns


Feature Image Photo Credit: From a video obtained by Inside Edition

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