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Vacuum therapy is the use of a suction device in the treatment of a variety of different conditions. It can be used to help wounds heal, clear skin blemishes, or treat erectile dysfunction in men. Preliminary scientific studies of vacuum therapy have determined that it may a useful adjunct treatment for wound care, but it is unknown how much this type of treatment may actually improve healing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that vacuum therapy may temporarily improve the texture of a person's skin and that it may help men with erectile dysfunction.
Though the invention of a machine capable of creating suction is relatively new, vacuum therapy has been in use for hundreds of years. Ancient medical practitioners would create a vacuum by lighting a fire inside a cup and then placing the mouth of the cup against a patient's skin. The fire quickly consumes all the air in the cup, creating a vacuum against the patient's skin.
A vacuum contained in a small cup pulls fluid and skin towards the back of the jar. This can create redness, bruising and some localized swelling that usually goes away fairly quickly. Folk medicine has often used this type of therapy to treat diseases, cure pain, and to improve blood flow to certain parts of the body. This type of vacuum therapy is still in use today, though most modern people who use vacuum technology therapeutically rely on machines that pull the air out of a cupped part of the patient's skin. Vacuum machines can be set so that the pressure inside the chamber is at a specific strength.
In medicine, vacuum therapy can be used in the treatment of wounds. It is believed that placing a wound within a vacuum for a short period of time can help pull the skin around the wound together. Blood and other fluids are also pulled away from the body in a vacuum chamber, so this type of therapy can cause the wound to bleed and any bacteria around the surface of it to be pulled away from the body. It can also help the wound to clot be pulling more platelets towards the open blood vessels. Though the research is still preliminary, medical professionals are hopeful that this therapy could decrease healing time and decrease the risk of infection.
When used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, vacuum therapy relies upon a vacuum chamber's ability to draw fluid towards it. In order to have an erection, additional blood is needed in the penis, and blood can be drawn into the penis through the use of a vacuum. The effects of this type of vacuum therapy are short-lived.
Some aesthetic problems with the skin are also treated with vacuum therapy. This type of therapy is commonly used to smooth out uneven sections of skin, especially those caused by cellulite or scaring. Treatments are not particularly effective, however, and require multiple visits and long-term maintenance if any results are to be seen.