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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.

HOW TO PREPARE:

Before your procedure:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine before the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have a medical condition that makes your body react to cold temperature. This includes cold urticaria, Raynaud disease, or cryoglobulinemia. Tell him or her if you have had cryosurgery before and if you had problems after the procedure.
  • You may need to have blood tests, imaging tests, or a biopsy. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • 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.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

What will happen:

  • 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.

CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.

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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