What is Cryotherapy?

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy refers to the application of an intensely cold substance to the skin. Most commonly, Liquid Nitrogen, a liquid gas with a temperature of -321 degrees, is employed in the dermatology clinic. Materials such as carbon dioxide and other gases have been used but are often considered not as versatile for clinical application.

What Is Cryotherapy Used For?

This procedure is used to freeze superficial epidermal lesions including dark spots and lentigos, seborrheic keratoses, warts, molluscum contangiosum, skin tags, vascular lesions such as cherry angiomas and venous lakes, sun damage and actinic keratosis, and some superficial skin cancers for the purpose of removing them. “Cryotherapy causes the skin lesion to blister up off the skin,” states Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist in Austin, Texas. “after an area is frozen, a blister will form typically within 24 hours or so. This blister peels off after 2 or 3 days, taking the unwanted skin lesion with it.”  The treated area typically shows raw skin or a slight crust or scab during the healing process. Approximately 1 to 2 weeks after treatment, normal health skin grows in the place of the treated area.

What Are The Risks When Using Cryotherapy?

As with any procedure, there are opportunities for risk. Cryotherapy is meant to completely remove specific skin growths or tumors and should do so with a single treatment. “Generally, it only takes on treatment to remove the lesion from the skin, but there are times when it can take a few or a series of treatments in order to completely remove the the lesion or lesions in question,” notes Dr. Mamelak. It is also possible to experience some pain after treatment. This typically resolves quite quickly. The blister or sore that develops at the treated area can also cause some discomfort. A change in pigmentation including a dark or light spot is also possible at the site treated with Cryotherapy. This usually resolves but in rare situations can be a permanent change. Bleeding, ulcer formation with granulation tissue, change in sensation and scarring are rare complications.

How Should I Take Care Of The Treatment Site?

You should clean the area with soap and water one to two times daily. Apply petroleum jelly, Aquaphor or antibiotic ointment to the treated skin can at times speed healing. “It is important to wear sunscreen or cover the treated areas, to avoid excessive sun exposure on the treated site” suggests Dr. Mamelak. “These areas can darken in the sun, si covering up is the best way to prevent this.”

Many lesions only require a single cryotherapy treatment. There are situations where there is more than one necessary, but if the site does not scab and fall off after a month you should contact your doctor to be sure that the treatment has worked.

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At Sanova Dermatology, we use a variety of treatments and techniques to ensure our patients receive the highest quality of care. Contact us today for any questions regarding dermatology treatments or procedures.

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