What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a method that uses extremely cold liquid, liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature of -196°C, to freeze and destroy skin cells of concern and need removal. It is usually used to remove a variety of suspicious lesions, such as sunspots, and some early, superficial skin cancers. Lesions suspected of being melanoma must not be treated with Cryotherapy. Melanoma must be removed surgically.
The purpose of Cryotherapy is to freeze the skin as quickly as possible, and then allow it to slowly thaw in order to destroy the affected skin cells. New healthy skin cells will then grow in their place.
How is it performed?
A special Cryospray unit is used to spray liquid nitrogen on to the skin to destroy the area of skin involved by one of our trained Doctors.
Cryotherapy can feel like a sting or may be slightly painful at the time of the procedure and for a short time afterwards. The amount of discomfort varies a great deal from person to person. The procedure does not require anaesthesia, as freezing itself has considerable local anaesthetic effect.
What happens after the procedure?
After the procedure there may be some redness and swelling, and the area may also blister. Once this blister stage is over, usually within a few days, a crust will form which will fall off in a week or so.
Activities such as swimming or bathing should be avoided for at least 3 days but gentle showering is allowed and the area should be kept clean to avoid any possible infection. Infection is, however, rare.
What can I expect in the end?
Well-performed Cryotherapy for sunspots usually produces no significant mark on the skin in most people. However, some people are very sensitive to Cryotherapy, and they may be left with a pale discolouration of the skin. Deeper Cryotherapy for skin cancers is likely to produce a pale scar, which will be lifelong.
In most cases the lesion will be removed with the initial procedure. However, in some cases, a second, or even third, treatment may be necessary if the whole lesion has not cleared, especially if it was large or thick to begin with, or if it has recurred. Skin lesions which survive two or three treatments with cryotherapy usually need to be biopsied, to ensure that they are not skin cancers.
Our Doctors will keep you informed throughout the whole process, providing advice and information regarding out comes and recommended treatments where required.