Every skin lesions needs to be treated differently. Removal or treatment of skin lesions involve different types of skin surgeries, cryotherapy is one of them.
What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves freezing surface skin lesions. Cryogens used to freeze skin lesions include, Liquid nitrogen (the most common method used by doctors, temperature –196°C), Carbon dioxide snow (–78.5°C) was more often used 20 years ago and, DMEP or Dimethyl ether and propane (available over the counter, –57°C). Cryotherapy can be used to treat conditions where a single nerve is irritated. Nerve growths (neuromas) and pinched nerves are examples of such conditions (nerve entrapments).
What can be treated with it?
Viral warts, actinic keratoses, and seborrhoeic keratoses are examples of skin lesions that can be treated by cryotherapy. Small skin tumors such as superficial basal cell and in situ squamous cell carcinoma (intraepidermal carcinoma) can sometimes be frozen by specialist dermatologists, but this is not always successful, therefore careful follow-up is required.
Advantages of cryotherapy:
Freezing may be the most effective treatment for a variety of skin lesions on the surface. It is cost effective, safe, and reliable. It is critical, however, that the skin lesion be accurately diagnosed. It should not be used to treat melanoma or any undiagnosed pigmented lesion that could be melanoma.
Types of cryotherapy:
There are two types of cryotherapy, internal and external.
External: If the tissue is on your skin, your doctor will usually apply the freezing agent with a spraying tool or a cotton swab.
Internal: Your provider will use a cryoprobe (an instrument) to treat conditions inside the body, such as precancerous cells or a tumor. This probe is put into your skin through a small cut.
Complications of cryotherapy:
Cryotherapy can sometimes leave side effects like: redness and irritation of the skin, numbness or tingling, pain (during the procedure and 24 hours after), infection (with pus or oozing), frostbite, blisters, burns, cold panniculitis, and change in vitals (increase in blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and respiratory rate)1. These effects are generally temporary.
Cryosurgery can lead to a variety of problems, which the cryosurgeon should be aware of. Such as, Technical problems with liquid nitrogen, improper patient selection, immediate secondary complications such as hyperemia, erythema, bullae formation, and edoema, and long-term complications such as depigmentation, pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia, loss of lashes and meibomian glands, lid deformities, scar formation, and destruction of the lacrimal system2. During cryotherapy, most patients experience slight cramping or pressure. It might also cause your vaginal area to get chilly. Some people are completely comfortable during their surgery.