The accumulative danger in visiting tanning salons does not hold a candle to the frighteningly fast and frigid death suffered by a young Nevada cryochamber salon manager on Tuesday. Authorities say 24-year-old Chelsea Ake was accidentally locked in a machine at the Rejuvenice cryochamber in Henderson, Nev. where she worked.
Temperatures reached 240°F below zero, according to investigators, as reported by Channel 6 ABC Action News. The Hawaiian native went into one of the stations by herself while closing up the store alone, according to her friend Shae-Lynn Bee. She did not turn the machine off before entering, Bee added. It is believed that Ake died by suffocation however it remains a mystery as to whether she locked herself inside or the machine malfunctioned, according to her friend.
“It’s very frustrating to know because there are no cameras in there so basically the only person that does know what happened is Chelsea,” Bee said. However, investigators ruled the death as “operator error” which indicates the chamber’s operating mechanism did not malfunction, according to the report. Ake is believed to have been in the chamber for approximately 10 hours. Normally, whole-body cryotherapy is used to cool the body as an alternative to ice packs and cold water immersion. The treatment is only supposed to last up to three minutes, and is popular among a spectrum of athletes who use it to reduce muscle soreness and pain from injuries.
Bee says Ake was an “awesome” person and hopes that’s the way people will remember her. “Chelsea’s everything to me,” says Bee. “She was my best friend and I’m going to miss her dearly.”
The goal of cryotherapy, according to researchers, is to decrease cell growth and increase cellular survival, decrease inflammation, decrease pain and spasm, promote the constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), and when using extreme temperatures, to destroy cells by crystallizing the cytosol, which is the liquid found inside cells, also known as intracellular fluid (ICF). The most prominent use of the term refers to the surgical treatment, specifically known as cryosurgery. Other therapies that use the term are whole-body cryotherapy and ice pack therapy.
According to the Daily Mail, Ake was using the machines intended for ‘medical therapy’ after hours. Her family says the medical examiner believes she ‘died within seconds.’ Ake was a lead aesthetician and strong advocate for cryofacials. She recently explained their benefits to the Las Vegas Review Journal in a piece published two days after her death.
A 2011 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, found that whole-body cryotherapy did not lessen muscle damage among a group of volunteers who’d completed grueling resistance exercises with their legs before entering the chamber.
However, according to Cryohealthcare Inc., the cryosauna uses gasiform nitrogen to lower the client’s skin surface temperature by 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of two-three minutes. The Cryochamber is cooled using liquid nitrogen but clients are not in direct contact with the gas. The skin reacts to the cold and sends messages to the brain that acts as a stimulant to the regulatory functions of the body. It produces the scanning of all areas that may not be working to their fullest potential. The skin exposure to the extreme temperatures also triggers the release of anti-inflammatory molecules and endorphins.