Cryotherapy is a treatment to “deep freeze” a skin lesion using Liquid Nitrogen to bring its temperature down to -120 degree Celcius. In deep freezing a lesion, the lesion is frozen to death and eliminated.
Using a cryo gun canister, liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the lesion. The freezing is time controlled and the frozen area will solidify as a thin layer of ice. It is then allowed to thaw and a second round of freezing will be carried out. Each round is called 1 freeze-thaw cycle. Not all lesions are suitable for cryotherapy and your dermatologist will advise you accordingly.
It is the most common procedure performed by dermatologists because the treatment is not only effective and affordable, it is also quick & easy. It does not require anaesthesia and the aftercare is very simple. There is no tedious wound care and dressing change to attend to.
There is slight pain during the treatment and patients may experience some pain after the treatment for up to a day or two. More often than not, the pain will go off in just after a few hours. There will be a small bump as a result of the freeze “burnt”. Sometimes, a clear or blood blister may follow. Regular application of the prescribed antibiotic ointment is advisable and a follow up review will be scheduled.
Cryotherapy has been used to treat a wide variety of skin lesions – malignant and non-malignant. Common examples are as follow:
Generally, cryotherapy is a safe procedure. However, minor issues and complications as follow can sometimes occur: Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation / hypopigmentation, recurrence of the skin growth, multiple sessions maybe required for viral warts
The treated area may look darker or lighter as a result of the burn. In most cases, the pigmentation will fade after sometime.
Skin cancer such as BCC and early SCC may recur and they may require repeat treatment or surgical excision.
The purpose of cryotherapy on warts is to induce the immune system to eliminate the virus. But it is not easy to stimulate the immune systems and some viruses are hard to kill. Hence we may need repeated sessions of treatment before we can succeed.
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