What to Know About the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Used for Jay Leno's Burn Treatment

Jay Leno is undergoing "very aggressive" hyperbaric oxygen therapy after a gasoline fire left him with "significant" second- and third-degree burns on his face, chest and hand, according to his doctor.

Dr. Peter Grossman — medical director at the Grossman Burn Center who is treating Leno — announced Wednesday during a press conference that the former Tonight Show host, 72, is going through several sessions of the specialized treatment due to some of his burns being "a little deeper and a little more concerning."

The facility's website states that hyperbaric oxygen treatment can "accelerate burn wound healing by increasing oxygen supply to injured areas and reducing swelling, which is helpful in maintaining healthy blood flow."

In a video obtained by Inside Edition, Leno — whose face was not visible — is seen wrapped in bandages laying inside of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber receiving treatment.

Jay Leno attends "May Contain Nuts! A Night Of Comedy" Benefiting WeSPARK Cancer Support Center at Skirball Cultural Center on October 25, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Jay Leno attends "May Contain Nuts! A Night Of Comedy" Benefiting WeSPARK Cancer Support Center at Skirball Cultural Center on October 25, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Here's what to know about the pressurized machines.

There are typically two types of hyperbaric oxygen chambers, a monoplace chamber and multiplace chamber.

A monoplace chamber is designed for one patient to lie down on a table that slides into a clear plastic unit that looks similar to an MRI machine. A multiplace chamber is designed similar to a hospital room that can accommodate several people at once, where patients are receiving oxygen through masks or hoods.

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hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber tank
hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber tank

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Human body tissue needs oxygen to function, and the air we breathe is 21% oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers create an environment where patients can breathe 100% oxygen, according to the FDA. Once a patient is in the chamber, the air pressure in the unit is raised to a level about 2 or 3 times higher than normal, which helps the lungs collect more oxygen.

During the treatment, the increased air pressure can cause a patient's ears to feel full, similar to when in an airplane or the mountains.

"[The hyperbaric oxygen chamber] helps the healing process, helps stimulate new blood vessel growth in areas that have been traumatized, it decreases the bacteria that normally surrounds the wound and it also decreases the pressure and the swelling inside the tissue," Grossman explained during the news briefing.

"Burns are progressive," he added. "By getting a patient into a hyperbaric oxygen tank early, you can hopefully minimize that progression from a second-degree burn to a third-degree burn and hopefully improve the outcome. And so, we've been very aggressive with hyperbaric oxygen treatment with Mr. Leno."

Sessions can last from 45 minutes up to 300 minutes, depending on the injury, and multiple sessions are typically needed, per the FDA.

In addition to burns, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to treat other medical conditions like severe anemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, radiation injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more. It is also commonly used for treating scuba and deep-sea divers affected by the rapid pressure change.