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What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy, also called cryoablation, cryosurgery and percutaneous cryotherapy, is a minimally invasive treatment that uses extreme cold temperature to freeze and destroy the tissue. In this procedure, liquid nitrogen or high pressure argon gas flows through a needle-like applicator (cryoprobe) creating extreme cold and it is placed in contact with the diseased tissue.

What are the common uses of Cryotherapy?
Most commonly, Cryotherapy is used topically on the skin surface by dermatologists. Topical cryotherapy is used typically for removing skin and eye lesions. In some cases if the lesion is present below the skin surface, a needle-like probe needs to be placed through the skin. Occasionally, a surgical incision may be required. Cryotherapy aims to save the area around the lesions and reduce the scarring as much as possible.
How does the Cryotherapy work?

Liquid nitrogen or argon gas is used in Cryotherapy to create extremely cold temperatures and destroy the diseased tissue. To destroy the tissue present outside the body, liquid nitrogen can be applied directly with a cotton swab or a spray device. For lesions located below the skin, the doctor may use image-guidance to insert cryoprobe through the skin and then deliver the liquid nitrogen or argon gas.

Living, healthy or diseased tissue cannot withstand extremely cold temperature perishes due to:

  • Formation of ice in the fluid around the cells which results in cellular dehydration
  • Ice formation inside the cell. At approximately -40°C or lower, intracellular ice crystals begin to form and destroy the cell
  • Bursting of cells from both swelling due to ice expansion inside the cell or shrinking caused by water exiting the cell
  • Disruption of blood supply. Cells die when their blood supply is interrupted due to ice formation within small blood vessels.

Once the tissue cells are ruined, the white blood cells of the immune system work to get rid of the dead tissue.

Which skin lesions can be treated using Cryotherapy?

Skin conditions that can be treated by cryotherapy include:

  • Viral warts
  • Skin tags
  • Actinic keratoses
  • Seborrhoeic keratoses (senile warts)

These skin lesions do not undergo cancerous transformation and have relatively poor blood supply, which makes them ideal lesions for Cryotherapy. It kills the cells, disrupts the blood supply and makes the lesion to perish and fall off.

What do I need to do before the procedure?
You don’t have to do anything to prepare for cryotherapy but the doctor may ask you to remove the makeup, lotion, or powder before the procedure.
What should I do after Cryotherapy?

The treated area may become red soon after Cryotherapy. It may also blister and swell. If this happens, don’t break open the blister.

You may also see clear drainage on the treated area. This is normal.

The treated area usually heals in about 7 to 10 days and it does not leave a scar.

If you are having some unwanted skin conditions like skin tags, warts or moles you should consult dermatologists at RxDx Multispeciality Clinic and discuss about all the treatment options available. If adviced, you can get the Cryotherapy done at RxDx.

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