Here’s What Happens During (and After) an IV Vitamin Therapy Treatment

The Reality of What Happens During (and After) an IV Treatment

It was only three years ago when a friend had allayed his colossal hangover in 30 minutes flat thanks to a concierge IV treatment—and I brushed him off as a highbrow partygoer. Now, IV treatments are more accessible than ever, and they’re not just for Vegas princes or inpatients. You can get IVs to boost your immunity when your coworkers have the communal sniffles, to destress after a chaotic week, or to simply reboot your whole system.

Despite their prevalence, IV therapies still made me raise a brow. Because they deliver nutrients directly to the bloodstream and bypass the stomach, IV treatments have been touted as godsends that shoot miracle energy into your body. But are they? I had to find out for myself.

As someone who’s frequently fatigued, I went to see Lisa Masterson, MD, at her Ocean Oasis Medical Spa in Santa Monica, California, to get an IV treatment for myself.

Choosing Your IV Treatment

Dr. Lisa offers eight treatments, including Energize, Hydrate, Relax, Rejuvenate, Vitamin C, Detox, Invigorate, and Defend. Sounds straightforward enough, but I felt like I could use all of them.

I’d just returned from my sleep-deprived, wine-filled bachelorette party, so Dr. Lisa suggested Invigorate, which she normally recommends for people who travel or work irregular hours. This treatment is “packed with electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins perfectly balanced for resetting your biological clock”—more specifically, it contains a cocktail of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), B-complex vitamins, trace minerals like selenium and zinc, and taurine, an amino acid known to regulate water and mineral levels in the blood.

My Advice: Call before you go and ask if they’ll allow you to speak to an on-premise healthcare practitioner about your specific issues. Many IV clinics offer treatments with vague names (Megabooster, Supercharge) or list the nutrient itself (Glutathione). Don’t just guess what’s best for you. If you can, talk to your own doctor first!

Getting to the Fun Part: The IV Insertion Process

After checking my vitals, such as blood pressure, the nurse guided me to a reclining chair. The prep portion is the same as getting a blood sample at your doctor’s office. You make a tight fist as they wrap a rubber band around your arm and look for a good vein. Once they identify the lucky vein, they disinfect the area with an alcohol pad and insert the needle, which is attached to a catheter.

If you’re afraid of needles, mentally prepare yourself. With standard blood work, the needle goes in, the blood is drawn, then the needle goes out. With the IV, there’s a bit more bleeding at the source as the needle is diligently removed and replaced with the catheter. (The nurse placed a patient bib under my arm for the tiny amount of extra blood that came out.)

Once the catheter is in your vein, the nutrients begin their journey through the IV tube. My treatment lasted 30 minutes, although it can be shorter or longer depending on the quantity of nutrients you’re getting.

My Advice: Don’t expect the insertion process to be swift. There’s a bit more action in the area you’re being pricked, so breathe deeply and remain calm.

Twiddling Your Thumbs During the IV Dripping

From what I hear, most people choose to rest their eyes or check their email as they wait to receive all their nutrients. I got lucky. Dr. Lisa concocted a tea which was—without exaggeration—the most delicious tea I’ve ever tasted. It was made with snow lotus flower, peony root, and freshwater pearl powder. It’s supposed to help purify blood and cleanse skin from the inside out.

On top of that, the nurse gave me a virtual reality headset I could use with my iPhone. To kill time, I installed an app that allowed me to watch digital characters materialize on a cube (it was a lot more entertaining than it sounds) and explore scenic landscapes.

My Advice: Make sure you use the restroom before your treatment. You cannot move once you’re connected to the drip. If you tend to get fidgety, make sure you bring some sort of entertainment that won’t disturb others. Half an hour watching TV passes by quickly, but not when you’re getting an IV!

My Results After My IV Treatment

At first I thought the IV didn’t help at all because I didn’t feel better instantly, per legend. This is one myth I’d like to dispel: Sure, an IV can help hangovers or sluggishness in a matter of minutes, but not everyone will feel like Wonder Woman right away.

The day after, I had more energy than I normally would have after a vacation. I wouldn’t call it invigorated, but I was back to normal. In other words,I felt as if the sleep deficit and wine never happened. Or you could say since my energy levels started off way lower than my baseline, the treatment “invigorated” me back to my normal state. This might not sound exciting, but it’s a big deal considering how long it usually takes me to recover from a getaway.

My Advice: If your head is throbbing to the point of no return, I understand why you’d want a quick fix. If you and your your healthcare practitioner have built a solid plan that involves periodic IV therapy, that’s cool. Or maybe you’ve enjoyed a decadent week and want to feel recharged (faster than you can with a green juice). I would do it again on a case-by-case basis, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on it.

No matter what you choose, just remember this: An IV treatment is not the be-all, end-all of health solutions. The best bet? Eat more organic plants. You’ll get lots of nutrients every day—without the needles.

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