A Montreal spa says it will continue to offer cryotherapy, treatments that drastically lower body temperature, despite a recent Health Canada advisory against it.

Health Canada issued a notice to say it considers cryotherapy devices to be a potential health risk.

"Health Canada is advising Canadians that several clinics in Ontario and at least one in Quebec are currently using illegally imported medical devices, cryosaunas, which are potentially linked to a death in the US.," the warning from Health Canada read.

But the manager of the only spa in Quebec to offer cryotherapy says she plans to continue offering it.

"Of course accidents can happen with all treatment — medical or aesthetic," said Malaika Vetter, manager of Spa Cloud in Montreal's Griffintown neighbourhood.

"But what we have here is total supervision throughout the whole process." 

Cryosaunas use liquid nitrogen to expose users to cold air — as cold as minus 140 C  for a range of promised therapeutic benefits.

Death in Las Vegas

Health Canada wants all the cryotherapy tanks to be recalled following a death in the United States. A spa worker in Las Vegas, Nev., was found dead inside a cryotherapy tank after self-administering the treatment.

In its statement, Health Canada requested that "the manufacturer stop the sale and immediately recall the unlicensed Class III devices. Health Canada has informed clinics who are currently using this device to advise them of the serious potential health risk."

It's also working with the Canadian Border Services Agency to help prevent what it says is further illegal importation of the devices.

Montreal clients must sign waiver

Vetter said she always informs clients of the health risks, which include the possibility of becoming drowsy from inhaling the gas, or the users not realizing how cold they are.

Vetter's clients have to sign a waiver, which includes Health Canada's warning that the treatment could be a potential health risk.

Quebec's Health Ministry told CBC News that it has no oversight responsibility for cryotherapy treatments, since it is not considered a health or medical service.

A spokeswoman said the ministry "is not aware of any problematic situations in Quebec concerning the devices. If ever a situation were to arise in connection with these devices where the safety of the population was at risk, Public Health would address it."


What is cryotherapy?

  • A treatment that uses liquid nitrogen to expose users to cold air
  • Treatment involves subjecting people to brief periods of sub-zero temperatures
  • Temperatures drop anywhere between minus 128 C to minus 185 C for several minutes
  • Treatment is used for pain and other conditions for the purpose of "whole body therapy"
  • Cryotherapy is increasingly popular but largely unregulated