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