Certain skin conditions, like warts, benign growths or precancerous lesions can be treated with localized cryotherapy instead of being surgically removed, thereby giving patients excellent cosmetic results with minimal scarring. Cryotherapy is a simple, noninvasive procedure that destroys the target cells by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.
What is Cryotherapy?
Extreme cold has been used to treat injuries, discomforts and diseases for thousands of years. Starting in the middle of the 20th century, dermatologist started using liquid nitrogen to treat a variety of benign skin conditions due to its ability to quickly reach extremely cold temperatures. Since then, researchers have extensively studied the subject, determining specific temperatures needed for cryotherapy procedures based on the condition being treated. The procedure has become extremely refined and is widely used by dermatologists today.
What Can I Expect During an Appointment?
Liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the skin tissue or applied with a cotton swab. The intense cold creates ice crystals inside the skin cells, destroying the abnormal cells on contact. The entire procedure should only take a few minutes.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Because liquid nitrogen is extremely cold, patients will likely feel some discomfort as it is applied. However, the application site is typically small and localized, so patients typically don’t require a local anesthetic for the pain. They may take ibuprofen or acetaminophen after treatment to lessen any lingering discomfort.
After the procedure, the area treated might turn slightly red and will usually blister and scab. The scab will fall off and the skin will heal within three to six weeks. Patients can minimize side effects and mitigate the chance of infection by carefully following post-treatment instructions, such as washing the treated area daily with fragrance-free soap and water.
Long-term side effects include discoloration of the treated skin. In many patients, this disappears within a year.
What are the Long-Term Results
Often, one treatment of cryotherapy is sufficient to permanently destroy the targeted skin cells. In some cases, several sounds of cryotherapy are needed. After treating a wart, for example, smaller warts might appear in the vicinity of the original growth, requiring additional treatment.
Is Cryotherapy Right for Me?
Patients with growths such as moles, warts and skin tags are good candidates for cryotherapy. The localized treatment can also effectively treat lesions that might be precancerous. The best way to decide if Cryotherapy is an option for you is to first schedule an initial consultation with our specialist, who will take into account the type, size and location of abnormal cells to determine a treatment option. Contact our office today if you’re ready to learn more about Cryotherapy.