What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a treatment where your dermatologist applies liquid nitrogen to freeze skin surface lesions. It is a minimally-invasion treatment, to treat actinic keratoses, seborrhoeic keratoses, viral warts, molluscum contagiosum and skin tags. In some cases skin cancers can be treated with cryotherapy, but follow-up appointments are recommended to confirm complete clearance of the lesion.
How does it work?
Cryotherapy works by targeting lesions to sub-zero temperatures, causing the tissue to die off. The spray gun is positioned 1 to 1.5cm away from the skin lesion and sprayed until an ice ball covers the area of the lesion. This liquid nitrogen is sprayed from up to 5 to 30 seconds in duration, which depends on the size, location and depth of lesion. This treatment is sometimes repeated, once the area has thawed, which is called “double freeze-thaw cycle”.
What to expect from this treatment?
After your treatment, there is a mild to moderate amount of discomfort for up to one hour, and a blister may develop. The blister is filled with a clear fluid, but may occasionally be blood stained. In some cases, a blister may not form and instead a moist scab may develop.
You may also develop puffiness around the eyes if this area was also treated.
How do I look after the treated area?
If pressure builds up around the blister and causes discomfort, you can release the fluid with a sterile needle. If the blister is not troublesome, leave it intact and let things take their own course.
After pricking the blister or after it bursts naturally, the area should be gently wiped/washed once or twice a day if eroded or weeping with a salt water solution (mix one teaspoon of salt in a glass with a cup of cooled, boiled water).
A dressing is optional, but advisable if the treated area is subject to trauma or clothes rubbing in the area. It is good to allow a lot water to run over the areas in the shower, but protect the treated areas from eg. Washing up water by wearing gloves.
When the blister dries to a scab, apply Vaseline to soften and help lift off the crust. The healing time after a scab occurs at different times on the body, 5-10 days on the face, and up to three weeks on the hands and three months on the lower legs.
If the lesion does not resolve, or if you have any queries or problems, please don’t hesitate to ring the surgery on (02) 9966 9667.