Cryotherapy (cryosurgery) in medical dermatology refers to the use of extremely low temperatures produced by liquid nitrogen (or argon gas) to destroy abnormal tissue.
Cryotherapy can address external tumors such as skin growths. It is used to treat early-stage cancers, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. It can also treat precancerous skin growths known as actinic keratosis.
Suncoast Skin Solutions, led by board certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Ewanowski, provides cutting-edge skin care treatments to patients in Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, Florida, and surrounding communities.
How is Cryotherapy Performed?
Cryotherapy is a quick and simple in-office procedure. The doctor may draw outlines (margin) around the area and usually spray the nitrogen. They may sometimes use a swab or cryoprobe.
The doctor will hold the sprayer nearly one cm above the lesion, and an iceball will be created around the lesion, and the margin as the doctor sprays the area. They will spray the region for up to 30 seconds after the development of the iceball.
This helps the area to stay frozen for long enough to destroy the tissue. Depending on the lesion, the doctor may allow the area to thaw for two to three minutes prior to re-freezing the site. But re-freezing may not be required for actinic keratosis.
The spray or probe attains temperatures as low as -13ºF to -58ºF.1. This allows the cells to freeze immediately. More destruction happens as inflammation occurs in the area within 24 hours.
Types of Skin Cancers Treated with Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy is commonly used to treat actinic keratosis, which are precancerous lesions or skin abnormalities that may develop into skin cancer. Nearly ten percent of actinic keratoses develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
For this reason, the doctor may recommend cryotherapy to treat actinic keratoses, and this treatment cures between 75 and 99 percent of actinic keratoses. Sometimes cryotherapy is used to treat SCC, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and small Kaposi sarcoma lesions on the face.
What to Expect before, during, and after Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy can be painful, and the patient may experience a burning sensation in the treated site. The doctor will provide the patient with wound care instructions after cryotherapy. A blister will develop in the treated area within one day, and a scab will form a few days later.
Advantages of Cryotherapy
In comparison to surgery, cryotherapy is less invasive. It involves only a small incision or inserting the cryoprobe through the skin. This minimizes bleeding, pain, and other surgical complications.
Additionally, this procedure is more affordable and has shorter recovery duration and hospital stay, or sometimes, no hospital stay at all. At times, cryotherapy is undertaken using local anesthesia.
Cryotherapy is a precise treatment which helps prevent damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Repeat treatments can be performed in a safe manner. Cryotherapy can also be combined with radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
This procedure may be suitable for the treatment of cancers that are inoperative or those that do not respond to conventional treatments. It may also be appropriate for patients who are not good candidates for traditional surgery due to their age or medical condition.
Dr. Ewanowski’s dermatology practice and medical spa receives patients from Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, Florida, and nearby areas for safe and proven skin care procedures.
SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Petersburg / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz (2 locations), Winter Haven, Largo, Riverview, Brooksville, Ocala, Largo at Bardmoor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, and Palm Harbor, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.