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Skin Cryosurgery

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Skin cryosurgery, or cryotherapy, is a procedure to treat a skin lesion by freezing it. A skin lesion is a growth on your skin. Cryosurgery uses a cold substance, usually liquid nitrogen, to kill the lesion without damaging nearby healthy skin. You may need cryosurgery more than once.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Your healthcare provider may use a medical marker on or near your skin lesion. These marks help show how much of your skin should be treated.

During your procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider may scrape the top of your lesion. He or she will apply the cold substance with a cotton swab or spray. A gel and a cryoprobe may also be used. A cryoprobe is a long, pointed tool that is placed on your skin lesion.
  • The cold substance is left on for 5 to 30 seconds, until a halo of ice forms around your lesion. Your healthcare provider may check the temperature inside your lesion by inserting a needle with a thermometer. The frozen lesion will slowly thaw out. Freezing and thawing may be repeated. The skin cells start to die when they are frozen.

After your procedure:

A bandage will cover your lesion area to keep it clean and dry. You can go home when your healthcare provider says it is okay. Your lesion area may heal in 4 to 6 weeks. Larger areas may take as long as 14 weeks to heal.

RISKS:

  • You may have discomfort, burning, or pain during and after your skin cryosurgery. Your skin may be red or swollen, or a blister may form. Your skin may bleed, or you may get an infection. If cryosurgery was done to treat a lesion on your face, you may have a headache after the procedure.
  • The treated skin may take longer than expected to heal, and you may get a scar. A new lesion may grow in the same area. You may need cryosurgery again. Your nerves may be damaged and your skin may be numb. Skin cryosurgery may also cause your treated skin to get lighter or darker or to lose hair.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2019 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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