What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy, also known as cryosurgery, is a minimally invasive treatment that freezes skin-surface-level lesions using liquid nitrogen. A precise spray of liquid nitrogen (LN2) destroys the lesions and helps save areas around the lesion or growth to reduce scarring. Unlike whole-body cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen chambers to alleviate muscle pain and sprains, cryosurgery treats specific lesions and other skin conditions.
Did you know…
Cryotherapy has been in use much longer than many people realize. Ancient Egyptians used cold therapy to treat inflammation and injuries as early as 2500 BC. However, the process we know today dates back to the 19th century, with local cooling applications to treat advanced cancers and relieve pain for people with migraines or neuralgia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are candidates for cryotherapy?
Ideal candidates for cryotherapy (cryosurgery) include those seeking to remove benign skin lesions for cosmetic or medical reasons. Cryotherapy is not recommended for those with darker skin tones, poorly vascularized lesions, and cold-related pathologies.
How is cryotherapy performed?
Cryotherapy freezes tissue, causing the cells within the area to die. The provider will spray liquid nitrogen directly to the abnormal area with a spraying device. For tumors and growths located below the skin’s surface, a needle-like applicator called a cryoprobe would be used alongside imaging guidance to freeze and destroy the diseased tissues.
What cosmetic concerns does cryotherapy treat?
While cryotherapy is primarily used for benign skin lesions and precancerous growths, birthmarks, moles, and viral warts can be treated as well.
What are the side effects of cryotherapy?
Potential side effects include blistering, swelling, redness, tissue granulation, hypopigmentation, bleeding, and blood vessel damage. If blisters develop, it’s important not to break open the blister to prevent the onset of infection. There may be clear drainage, which is normal during its healing process.
What does recovery time look like with cryotherapy?
Healing can take as long as ten days, and a follow-up appointment is necessary for post-treatment care. Post-instructions include:
- Washing the treated area with fragrance-free soap and water daily.
- Avoiding scented soaps and lotions.
- Leaving the treated area uncovered to prevent infection.
- Putting Vaseline or Aquaphor on the treated area daily for two weeks to prevent crusting.