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Cryotherapy or cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen is a minimally invasive procedure to freeze and destroy skin lesions.

Cryotherapy technology

  • Liquid nitrogen works by bringing the skin temperature to -196 degrees Celsius to cause destruction of skin lesions.
  • Inflammation develops during the 24 hours after the treatment, further contributing to the destruction of the skin lesions.
  • For epidermal skin lesions, the aim is to create a blister to separate the epidermis (and the skin lesion within the epidermis) from the dermis, a process like a “frost-bite”.
  • Liquid nitrogen is delivered by
    • Using a cotton-tipped applicator for superficial skin lesions
    • Using a cryogun
    • Inserting cryo-probes into the core of the skin lesion: keloids, skin cancer

Conditions treated with liquid nitrogen cryotherapy

  • Infection: Viral warts, molluscum contagiosum
  • Skin growths: skin tags, age spots
  • Precancerous skin growths: actinic keratosis
  • Some superficial skin cancers
  • Keloids and hypertrophic scars

The liquid nitrogen cryotherapy treatment procedure

  • The liquid nitrogen is applied to the skin lesion by a cotton-tip applicator, a cryo spray or a cryo phobe
  • The liquid nitrogen is applied for 12 seconds, to a depth of 3mm and a diameter of at least 2 mm outside the lesion
  • The dose of liquid nitrogen, the time and the choice of delivery depend on the size, the tissue type, the depth of the lesion and the area of the body
  • Usually 2 or 3 freeze-thaw cycles are needed
  • The skin becomes white during treatment and returns to normal colour after a few minutes
  • A blister may be seen and this scabs off over 1-2 weeks
  • A mild scar or change in skin colour may be seen
  • For thick warts many sessions are often required at 2 weekly intervals

The content provided on this website is meant to supplement, not replace, the guidance of a doctor. It is not a substitute for their professional advice or consultation. If you need further information kindly get a consultation with Dr Joyce Lim.