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Skin Cryosurgery


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.


Before your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have a medical condition that makes your body react badly to cold temperature. This includes cold urticaria, Raynaud disease, or cryoglobulinemia. Tell your healthcare provider 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. A biopsy is when a sample of your skin lesion is removed and sent to a lab for tests. 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 mark your skin with a marker to guide him during cryosurgery. These marks 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:

Your healthcare provider may scrape the top of your lesion. Your healthcare provider will apply the cold substance with a cotton swab or spray. He may also use gel and a cryoprobe. 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 the wound area to keep it clean and dry. You can go home when your healthcare provider says it is okay.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.


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. If you have certain medical conditions, the cold may decrease your blood pressure, and you may pass out.

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.

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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.