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Cryotherapy is a method of superfreezing tissue in order to destroy it. This article discusses cryotherapy of the skin.
Cryosurgery - skin
Cryotherapy is done using a cotton swab that has been dipped into liquid nitrogen or a probe that has liquid nitrogen flowing through it.
The procedure is done in your health care provider's office. It usually takes less than a minute.
The freezing may cause some discomfort. Your health care provider may apply a numbing medicine to the area first.
Cryotherapy or cryosurgery may be used to:
Rarely, cryotherapy may be used to treat some skin cancers. However, skin that is destroyed during cryotherapy cannot be examined under a microscope. A skin biopsy is needed if your health care provider wants to check the lesion for signs of cancer.
Cryotherapy risks include:
Cryotherapy works well for many patients. Some skin lesions, especially warts, may need to be treated more than once.
The treated area may look red afterwards. A blister will often form within a few hours. It may appear clear or have a red or purple color.
You may have a little pain for up to 3 days.
Most of the time, no special care is needed during healing. The area should be washed gently once or twice a day and kept clean. A bandage or dressing should only be needed if the area rubs against clothes or may be easily injured.
A scab forms and will usually peel away within 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the area treated.
Call your health care provide if:
Habif TP. Dermatologic surgical procedures. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 27.
Habif TP. Warts, herpes simplex, and other viral infections. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 12.
Beard JM, Osborn J. Common office procedures. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 28.