Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
POSTED BY Dr. Sumit Kapadia | Jun 29, 2023

The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in Treating Leg Ulcers


India grapples with a significant number of individuals suffering from chronic wounds such as leg ulcers, including venous and arterial ulcers. These troublesome wounds not only cause severe discomfort but may escalate into serious health issues if neglected. Traditional interventions for leg ulcers often comprise compression treatment, frequent wound dressing changes, and occasionally surgical procedures. But recent advancements in medical technology have introduced a novel and promising treatment option – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). HBOT, as part of the comprehensive vascular treatments offered by renowned vascular surgeon Dr. Sumit Kapadia, is revolutionizing the way leg ulcers are treated in India.

 Demystifying Leg Ulcers

Imagine an open wound that exposes the underlying tissue due to the disintegration of the skin, predominantly observed around the lower legs and ankles – this is what a leg ulcer looks like. Among leg ulcers, venous ulcers are more prevalent and are identified by their distinctive symptoms such as pain, itching, edema, and skin discolouration around the affected area. Arterial ulcers may present with symptoms such as a cold, pale appearance of legs and feet, along with shiny, thin skin. These ulcers may also induce hair loss on legs and feet, and at-rest pain in the toes or the foot. With the ability to drastically lower one’s life quality, it is of paramount importance to seek expert medical advice for effective leg ulcer treatment.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Unraveled

HBOT is a specialised medical intervention where a patient breathes in 100% oxygen within an environment of increased pressure, usually within a specially designed chamber. The pressure within the HBOT chamber can be up to two and half times the regular atmospheric pressure. Under such high pressure, the patient’s lungs can assimilate more oxygen than under normal circumstances. Along with the hemoglobin molecule adhering to oxygen, under pressure oxygen molecules can directly dissolve in plasma. Hence, the oxygen-rich blood is then transported throughout the body, triggering the release of growth factors and stem cells that aid in healing and infection control.


ALso Read: Arterial Leg Ulcers vs Venous Leg Ulcers: What’s the Difference?

The Healing Power of HBOT for Leg Ulcers

Research into HBOT as a complement to traditional wound care for stubborn ulcers has yielded encouraging results. Studies have shown that HBOT can accelerate the healing trajectory, shrink ulcer size, and help avert the drastic measure of amputation, especially in diabetic patients. HBOT also exhibits more effectiveness in healing arterial ulcers compared to other treatments. But it is crucial to note that only a thorough evaluation by a seasoned vascular surgeon like Dr. Sumit Kapadia can determine the suitability of HBOT for an individual patient

The HBOT Procedure for Leg Ulcers

During HBOT treatment, patients are comfortably lying inside a acrylic specialized HBOT chamber, where they breathe in pure oxygen. The pressure within this chamber is adjusted to be 1.5 to 2.5 times the usual atmospheric pressure, thus augmenting the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Each session could last for up to 1 and a half hours, with patients potentially requiring 20–60 sessions based on the severity and response rate of their ulcers. Consultation with a professional vascular surgeon like Dr. Sumit Kapadia is vital for tailoring treatment to individual patient needs.

Unveiling the Mechanisms of HBOT for Leg Ulcers

The enhanced oxygen supply during HBOT is a key player in the healing process of leg ulcers, acting through several mechanisms:

New Blood Vessel Formation: The augmented oxygen in the bloodstream encourages the formation of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis. This improves the blood supply to the ulcer site, accelerating the healing process.

Growth of New Skin Cells and Tissues: The surplus oxygen supply to tissues stimulates the synthesis of collagen and fibroblasts, both crucial for wound healing.

Enhances Infection Fighting Ability: Oxygen-rich environments increase the efficiency of white blood cells (leukocytes) in combating bacteria.

The Safety Profile and Potential Side Effects of HBOT

While HBOT is generally a safe procedure, it may, like any medical intervention, lead to certain side effects. These may range from mild, such as sinus discomfort or pressure in the ears, to severe yet infrequent occurrences like oxygen toxicity, which may induce seizures. In very rare instances, patients might experience vision changes, which are usually transient. Lung complications, such as a collapsed lung, though extremely rare, are potential risks. It is therefore critical to have an in-depth consultation with a vascular surgeon like Dr. Sumit Kapadia to assess individual health risks and mitigate potential side effects before starting HBOT treatment.

Other indications for HBOT

Primarily proven to be beneficial in healing of leg ulcers including diabetic foot conditions like ulcer and infection, HBOT is also very useful in post irradiation skin necrosis or necrotic skin grafts and flaps.  Some other indications include use in neurological conditions like head injury or autism. 

Due to its healing properties, HBOT has also been gaining popularity for its anti aging and recovery from sports injuries.

ALso Read:  Do’s and Don’ts For Keeping Your Veins Healthy


While leg ulcers pose considerable distress to patients, the advent of medical innovations like Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy provides newfound hope. Under the expert guidance of a seasoned vascular surgeon like Dr. Sumit Kapadia, HBOT can play a significant role in healing leg ulcers, thereby enhancing patients’ quality of life and potentially steering clear of severe outcomes such as amputations. However, as with any medical treatment, it is imperative to have a thorough discussion with a healthcare provider to understand the potential benefits and risks associated with HBOT.