Cryotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an extremely cold liquid or instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue that requires elimination. It is also referred to as cryosurgery or cryoablation.
Cryogen used by specialist dermatologist or skin doctors to freeze skin lesions is liquid nitrogen (the most common method used by doctors). Liquid nitrogen has a temperature of-196 degrees celcius.
The nitrogen is applied to the skin lesion for a few seconds using a cryospray, depending on the desired diameter and depth of freeze. The treatment is repeated in some cases, once thawing has completed. This is known as a ‘double freeze-thaw’.
Lesions that are commonly treated by cryotherapy include actinic keratosis ( a precancerous skin lesion caused by sundamge), viral warts, molluscum contagiosum in adults and seborrheic keratosis (or senile warts). Other none cancerous lesions that can be treated includes skin tag, keloids and xanthelasmas (cholestrol spots).
Specialist dermatologists sometimes freeze small skin cancers such as superficial basal cell carcinomass and in situ squamous cell carcinomas (intraepidermal carcinoma, Bowen disease), but this is not always successful so careful follow-up is necessary.
Freezing may be the most suitable way of getting rid of many different kinds of surface skin lesion. It is relatively inexpensive, safe, and reliable. However, it is important that the skin lesion has been properly diagnosed. It should not be used to treat melanoma or any undiagnosed pigmented lesion that could be melanoma.
Cryotherapy is hardly ever used in young children, it’s used with caution in dark skinned patients as it may lead to hypopigmentation. Dermatologist also prefer not to use it on corners of eyes, fold of skin between nose and lip, skin surrounding nostrils and skin overlying nerves.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Gandhi.