Interest in soft-side hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) chambers has been growing due to their portability and ease of setup whether in cosmetic offices or even at home. However, these inflatable or portable chambers, also known as mild chambers, differ significantly from hard-side chambers. Most notably, soft-side chambers are NOT medical devices and don’t provide the same benefits that patients can receive in a hard chamber. So, it’s important to know the facts.


Hard-Side HBOT Chambers

Hard-side HBOT chambers, available as monoplace and multiplace models, are engineered from durable materials to withstand pressures up to 3.0 atmospheres (ata). These chambers are used to deliver 100% pure oxygen in a controlled high-pressure environment. During treatment, the atmospheric pressure is gradually increased to between 2.4 and 3.0 ata, saturating the body with oxygen. This process significantly boosts arterial oxygen levels, which can be measured at around 1,737 mmHg compared to the 159 mmHg found at normal air pressure.

Multiplace chambers operate slightly differently by allowing patients to breathe pure oxygen through a hood or mask in a room filled with normal air. These chambers are typically used in hospitals and trauma centers for emergency treatments.

Benefits of Hard-Side HBOT Chambers:

  • Deliver 100% pure oxygen optimal to treat a variety of medical conditions
  • Effectively stimulate wound healing
  • Supported by numerous clinical studies
  • Often covered by insurance
  • Use oxygen piped directly from liquid oxygen tanks, ensuring uncontaminated air
  • Approved for FDA treatments and various off-label uses

Soft-Side Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers

Soft-side chambers are made from flexible plastic materials that cannot withstand the high pressures necessary for effective HBOT. Unlike hard chambers, soft chambers do not require a physician’s supervision and can even be purchased for home use, which has fueled their popularity. However, their applications are extremely limited.

Limitations of Soft-Side HBOT Chambers:

  • Only approved for treating acute mountain sickness
  • Use compressed air with a maximum pressure of 1.3 ata (hard-side chambers can use up to 3.0 ata)
  • Provide approximately 24% oxygen (hard-side chambers provide 100% oxygen), resulting in arterial oxygen levels around 197 mmHg—only slightly higher than normal air pressure
  • Lack clinical evidence supporting their ability to promote wound healing or offer antibacterial benefits
  • Not covered by insurance
  • Potential for contaminated air due to the use of ambient air
  • Require more frequent sessions due to lower pressure and oxygen levels
  • Not designed to handle 100% oxygen

Choosing the Right HBOT Chamber

At Central Coast Wound Care Center & Hyperbarics, we use state-of-the-art hard-side hyperbaric chambers from Sechrist Industries Inc., a leader in HBOT technology. Our chambers are designed to deliver high-quality treatments in a safe and comfortable environment.

While soft-side chambers may be, at first glance, affordable and accessible, they do not offer the therapeutic benefits of hard-side chambers. For effective HBOT, a mechanically engineered chamber delivering 100% pure oxygen under professional supervision is required.

Contact CCWCC for more information or to schedule a consultation.


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