It’s hard to pinpoint when health and wellness became trendy. Maybe documentaries like “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.” persuaded us to swap a cheeseburger for a creatively named salad. We’re more likely to buy a membership to a boutique gym than a tanning salon. But it’s the quirky concepts — think vitamin infusions and vampire facials — that are becoming ever-present in our neighborhood. Whether they’re easing aches with an arctic blast or dousing your face with plasma, these Preston Hollow businesses have taken an unconventional approach to wellness.

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Cold as it gets

Standing inside a tank that’s colder than Siberia seemed ludicrous until celebrities and athletes raved about whole-body cryotherapy.

Now spending three minutes in a contraption overflowing with liquid nitrogen — while only donning underwear, gloves, socks and slippers — is a common way of easing soreness and pain.

Cryotherapy immerses the body in temperatures between -147 and -202 degrees. The session, which costs between $45-$70, is reported to reduce inflammation, redirect blood flow and lead to weight loss, although research is inconclusive and contradictory. 

The procedure originated in Japan as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in the late 1970s. It has been popular in Europe for decades, and its demand in the United States has grown since 2006. 

Kelly Carden launched Cryo1One at Preston Royal Village three years ago. 

“When I left my corporate job, people thought I was leaving to freeze dead bodies,” Carden says.

She couldn’t convince companies to distribute liquid nitrogen, and landlords were hesitant to lease property. At first, she rented a 300-square-foot space, where she crammed two cryotherapy chambers that cost about $60,000 each.

“It took two years to get a sign on the building,” she says.

As lines wrapped around the hallway, she moved the business to a larger space and partnered with one of her former clients. The duo chats with patrons during the three-minute sessions to ensure their safety and distract them from the frigid cold. 

It feels a bit like working in a hair salon, Carden says, because people will tell her just about anything to keep their minds preoccupied. 

Avid customers range from St. Mark’s and Hockaday athletes looking for a competitive edge to 80-year-olds seeking pain management. Families schedule sessions together — an entertaining, albeit atypical time to bond. 

 “The funniest thing is the high-schoolers are better than their parents,” she says.

The hangover cure

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, but a bachelor party in Sin City sparked Matthew Burns’ fascination with vitamin infusions.

Desperate for a quick hangover cure, Burns stopped at a retail infusion store for a dose of electrolytes. He learned Nevada was one of many places commercializing vitamin infusions.  The concept intrigued Burns, who had devoted his career to the oil and gas industry.

“Running a vitamin and wellness clinic is not what I imagined myself doing,” he says.

He invited his mom, aunt and a few family friends who are experienced in the medical and law professions to dinner. Five hours later, they devised a plan to launch VitaLiv. 

Burns thought that most customers would be 20-somethings looking for a quick fix after binge drinking or an intense workout. Instead customers often are battling illnesses that deplete their energy levels. They visit the Preston Center business for additional relief, despite that the federal Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved the treatments.

“Hearing words like cancer, lupus, Lyme’s disease — all these different things we didn’t expect to see — is the base we’re seeing.”

Doctors oversee the Preston Center business, and registered nurses concoct the infusions and shots on-site. Costs range from $25-$200. Because of the risks that are associated with them, vitamins A, E, K and potassium aren’t available.

Burns hasn’t seen any complications, he says, although a few people are afraid of the needles.

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Nip, tuck, freeze 

Preston Hollow neighbor and former Real Housewives of Dallas cast member Marie Reyes has watched skin care trends come and go since she opened SkinSpaMed in North Dallas. 

But the effectiveness of CoolSculpting surprised her. The treatment involves placing a vacuum onto fatty areas of the body. The vacuum freezes fat cells, which causes them to die so they’re absorbed back into the body.

It’s uncomfortable, but there’s no downtime, Reyes says.

“Some people describe it as a frozen piece of butter under their skin.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved the treatment, but Reyes doesn’t want to oversell it. It’s meant for people targeting problem areas, not people seeking dramatic weight loss. 

CoolSculpting also is expensive, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 per treatment.

Thanks to the Kardashian clan, services like the Vampire facial also have skyrocketed. Seeing faces splattered with blood across social media may appear to be a horror movie poster, but it’s part of a cosmetic procedure intended to reverse aging.

Patients’ blood is extracted from their arms. The blood is then spun to separate platelet rich plasma, which stimulates cells. It’s added to the skin with a micropen to rejuvenate cells.

As barbaric as it sounds, that hasn’t deterred patients from making an appointment.

Tweaking an ancient tradition

Acupuncture is more than 2,500 years old, yet cosmetic acupuncture is unfamiliar to most.

Modern Acupuncture, located in the Preston Center, offers cosmetic and traditional acupuncture in an unusual setting. The clinic’s dimly lit room and quiet setting is more like a spa than a doctor’s office.

“We call it the zen den for a reason,” says Bruce McGovern, who co-owns the franchise with his wife, Stephanie. 

The couple have a knack for predicting trends in the industry, which is why they were one of the first to franchise Massage Envy and European Wax Center.

Cosmetic acupuncture places fine needles throughout the face, which is reported to stimulate the growth of collagen. It is supposed to fill fine lines, smooth wrinkles and improve skin tone, although studies’ verdicts on its effectiveness are mixed. 

“I think people are being more responsible for their own health and wellness now,” Stephanie says. “We thought this maybe on the cutting edge of development.”

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