Cryotherapy is the targeted use of extreme cold to destroy unhealthy or unwanted tissue. The doctor applies the cold on the skin or injects it through a needle to reach the inside of the body, where it freezes away the problem tissue. Cryotherapy is often used to remove minor skin problems such as warts or skin tags, and it is also used to treat some small tumors.
To achieve the cold temperatures needed for cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is passed through a tube, which becomes cold enough to freeze cells on contact. Alternatively, liquid nitrogen can be swabbed directly onto the skin or via a spray, which applies only a specific, small amount to the skin at a time.
Because the area treated is typically very small, cryotherapy is not usually painful. There may be a sensation of cold and possibly some slight discomfort. Cryotherapy is very fast and can easily be performed in a doctor’s office. It also doesn’t require stitches, because there is no cutting involved. These benefits make cryotherapy a good choice for many issues, including:
Some skin cancers
Retinoblastoma, cancer that occurs in the eye
Depending on the procedure, it usually takes three to four weeks to heal after cryotherapy. If it was done internally, you may feel sore or have a small amount of swelling the first day afterwards. If cryotherapy was performed on your skin, you will have a scab where your tissue was removed. Keep it clean and dry so it can heal.