Cryotherapy is the application of liquid nitrogen to remove surface skin lesions and areas of sun-damaged skin. Treated areas scab over and peel, revealing smoother, unblemished skin underneath. Cryotherapy is a simple and safe procedure and involves only mild, short-lived discomfort.
What conditions can be treated with cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy can be used to treat benign lesions such as viral warts (verrucae), skin tags and seborrheic keratoses. It can also be used to remove areas of sun-damaged skin.
Your cryotherapy treatment – what to expect
Liquid nitrogen is applied to the area to be treated. The procedure lasts just a few seconds, the precise time will depend on the thickness and size of the lesion. Treated skin temporarily becomes frosted white and then thaws back to normal skin temperature. This procedure may be repeated if necessary. You may feel stinging or itching during cryotherapy treatment.
After cryotherapy, your skin may look red, swell and/or blister. After several days, a scab will form, and this generally takes 1-2 weeks to fall off. Healing times depend on the area of skin treated, the skin on your face will heal faster than that on your body.
Your cryotherapy treatment - aftercare and downtime
Treated areas should be kept dry for 24 hours following cryotherapy. Then you can begin to gently wash the skin and pat it dry with a soft towel. Antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly may be applied to help promote healing.
It is very important not to pick treatment scabs as this may delay healing and/or cause scarring. If the treated area could be knocked or rubbed by your clothing, then a dressing or plaster should be applied. Complete healing generally takes place over 1-2 weeks.
Patients typically return to the clinic for review 3-6 weeks after cryotherapy to ensure that treated lesions have been completely removed.
Avoid intense exposure to the sun for 3-4 weeks before and after cryotherapy.