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Written on 3rd November 2020
by Dr. Editorial Staff

The panorama of aesthetic treatments is, nowadays, increasingly vast and full of continuous innovations, both due to the progress of medical and technological research. The new frontier is populated with new methods to treat blemishes and promote the well-being of the human body. Among these treatments, pressotherapy is increasingly attracting the attention of the medical world and the patients who turn to it, above all, thanks to the remarkable results it provides and its low degree of invasiveness. Intended as a treatment to improve the functioning of the circulatory system and the lymphatic system, it has been widely used in the battle against cellulite and water retention.

What is pressotherapy?

Pressotherapy is an aesthetic treatment characterised by the mechanical stimulation of certain areas of the body with the aid of computer-controlled pneumatic devices. These compressed air devices have the task of distributing pressure progressively over the areas to be treated, promoting lymphatic and venous circulation. In aesthetic medicine, this treatment is used to combat cellulite, water retention and to reshape legs and buttocks.

The effects of this mechanical massage are particularly beneficial for the body by promoting the elimination of toxins in a natural way through the detoxifying effect of the reactivation of the lymphatic drainage. The influence on the circulatory system also helps the oxygenation of the tissues, which, revitalised, promote the recovery of the elasticity and tone of the skin.

Pressotherapy is widely used to counter:

  • The effects of cellulite
  • Toxins and excess fluids
  • Circulatory problems
  • Lymphatic and venous oedema

The use of pressotherapy can also play an important non-secondary role in promoting:

    • The metabolism
    • Stress reduction
    • Skin elasticity and tone
    • Cooling down after exercise and a relaxing action on the muscles
    • Reduction of trauma pains
    • Relief of swelling and pain localised in the lower limbs
    • Reduction of abdominal swelling

How it works

The controlled compression system of the pressotherapy devices consists of leggings, armrests, and waistbands connected to a computerised machine responsible for distributing the compressed air in the various chambers that make up the devices. The “cushions”, in fact, are constituted of watertight cells that make it possible to locate the treatment on circumscribed areas of the body or to alternate through the different therapeutic plans provided by numerous maps in the central computer. The latter distributes the air until it reaches the desired pressure on the body and modulates it to serve the sequential programs that act sequentially from the ankle to the patient’s pelvis.

The role of pressure on the body is to increase the hemato-lymphatic flow by compressing the vessels, and it is for this reason that the treatment is also applied in the treatment of oedema. The restoration of the exchanges between the lymphatic and blood systems, in fact, allows the reabsorption of the oedema that “yields” the accumulated liquids, both blood and other, to the capillaries and finally to the lymphatic system that is responsible for expelling them.

Although this technique was originally designed to increase blood and lymphatic circulation, it became clear that the benefits were also evident in the circulation of the interstitial and extracellular fluid as well as in the oxygenation of the body at every level. In addition to purely aesthetic aspects, therefore, pressotherapy has had, and continues to have, a decisive role in the general well-being of the body, also favouring the reduction of abdominal and limb swelling and considerably improving the patient’s quality of life. The use of pressotherapy has also found extensive applications for older individuals, allowing important steps forward in the understanding and treatment of phenomena related to natural ageing.

Who should use pressotherapy and why?

Pressotherapy is a non-invasive treatment that reconciles the desire to improve the body even in the case of opposition to surgical or pharmacological techniques. It is especially well-suited to:

  • Detoxifying the body
    In other words, reactivating lymphatic drainage in order to eliminate toxins and harmful and excess liquids in our body which, due to circulation problems or limitations in the exchange of liquids between the lymphatic system, circulatory system and the interstices, remain confined to the latter.
  • Reshaping of the body
    For those people who want to correct imperfections of the belly, buttocks and legs without having to resort to a scalpel or other invasive treatments. Reshaping of the body is possible thanks to the stimulation of the tissues, which recover natural tonicity, and to the forced drainage of liquids and fats that can be more easily disposed of by our body. Often, for the treatment to work effectively, it is advisable to adapt your diet to a healthy lifestyle and consume foods that help pressotherapy to act on cellulite and water retention.
  • Eliminate water retention
    Water retention is a widespread problem that affects over 30% of the world’s population. It consists of the accumulation of fluid in certain areas of the body, which are usually the same areas where fat tends to accumulate. This accumulation of fluid can be traced to both genetic predispositions and factors such as pathologies and poor nutrition.
  • Post-operative drainage
    In cases of lymphoedema, due to surgery, the accumulation of lymph, and the consequent swelling and pain, can be reduced thanks to pressotherapy which, although not permanent, can strongly reduce the symptoms of the problem and restore pre-operative function.
  • Reduction of trauma oedema
    The accumulation of blood and other substances after a trauma generates unsightly and often painful oedemas that can be drained and eliminated permanently thanks to pressotherapy.

Treatment procedures and sessions

Pressotherapy, as is generally known, is a medical treatment that is mainly carried out in beauty centres under the supervision of a doctor. The treatment is not particularly high-risk but can lead to complications in specific cases and with particular patient conditions. A preventive consultation is essential in order to identify the disorders and areas to be treated as well as to determine the general conditions of the person carrying out the treatment and to become aware of any previous or still present pathologies.

Once the consultation has been completed, the doctor plans the treatment and, depending on the individual situation, determines the number of sessions and the programs to be used. The treatment consists in circumscribing the area to be treated with the appropriate devices which, after being set up, are inflated by means of a pump operated by a computer that manages the programs to be carried out. For best results, a series of treatments is recommended, which can vary from 8 to 15, depending on the specific individual needs. It is essential that the treatments are distributed with a frequency of at least one weekly session of 30 minutes, even if with 2 or 3 sessions during the week it is possible to achieve better results in less time.

For cellulite treatment, at least 10 sessions are required, which must accompany a healthy lifestyle and an appropriate diet aimed at eliminating water retention and fat accumulation. One session per week is sufficient to obtain optimal results in a short time, while for the total number of sessions it is essential to assess the patient’s condition and the seriousness of the problem as well as, over time, the body’s effective response to treatment.

The treatment is almost painless, and the patients’ experience is compared to that of a massage. After the treatments, there is often the need to urinate resulting from the stimulation of body fluids. There are no particular recommendations other than in regards to fasting, which is not recommended in the case of pregnancy, venous thrombosis, cirrhosis of the liver and other diseases.

Side effects and contraindications of the treatment

The characteristics of pressotherapy mean that the treatment has no specific contraindications except for people who have circulatory system disorders or who suffer from particular pathologies. Pregnant women are also denied access to this type of treatment because of its direct effect on the individual and potential damage to the foetus.

Pressotherapy, therefore, is contraindicated in cases of:

    • Pregnancy
    • Presence of heart, liver and/or kidney failure
    • Cirrhosis of the liver
    • Diabetes
    • Arteriosclerosis
    • Haemophilia
    • Phlebitis
    • Deep vein thrombosis
    • Varicose veins

In addition to these limitations, the treatment has no undesirable effects except for the sensation and need to urinate. This negligible undesirable effect is determined by the action of the treatment on body fluids and waste substances that are disposed of by the urinary tract.


    • Carlo D’Aniello, Manuale di Medicina Estetica, Masterbooks, 2019
    • Alberto Massirone, Trattato di Medicina Estetica, Piccin Nuova-Libraria, 2010.

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